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MANAGEMENT OF HUMAN RESOURCES
As at 30 June 2015, there were 2,900 staff employed at the ABS under the Public Service Act 1999: 1,384 men and 1,516 women. This includes operative and inoperative employees. The ABS had 2,824 operative and paid inoperative staff, as at 30 June 2015.
There were also 1,435 staff employed to assist with data collection under Regulation 3 of the Statistics Regulations, and appointed as authorised officers under Section 16 of the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Of these, 919 were Census Field Officers and 516 were Household Survey Interviewers.
Table 7.1: Number of ABS staff by location and status, at 30 June 2015 (a) (b)
(b) Excludes the Australian Statistician (Statutory appointment).
At 30 June 2015 there were eight women in the ABS Senior Executive Service (SES), representing 24% of the total number of ABS SES officers.
Table 7.2: Number of ABS SES officers by level, sex and year (a)
ABS PEOPLE PLAN
The People Plan supports ongoing organisational performance and sustainability via an integrated, consistent and focused implementation of people-related initiatives across the ABS. The essence of the Plan is highlighted in the motto 'Our People, Our Business, Our Future', reflecting the value placed on our people and recognising that a highly skilled ABS workforce is critical to achieving our goals. The Plan is revised annually.
The four high-level national strategies progressed through the 2014–15 People Plan were:
These strategies reflect the people-related priorities articulated in the ABS Corporate Plan.
WORKPLACE DIVERSITY IN THE ABS
The ABS is committed to valuing and supporting a diverse workforce, including differences in gender, age, language, ethnicity, cultural background, disability, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, family responsibilities, educational level, life experience, work experience, socioeconomic background and personality.
The following plans form the ABS Workplace Diversity Program. These plans are integrated with the ABS People Plan 2014-15.
In addition, the ABS demonstrates commitment to access and equity through the ABS Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 (cat. no. 1012.0).
Workplace diversity action plan
The Workplace Diversity Action Plan 2013–2017 sets out four strategies that aim to achieve positive outcomes from increased workplace diversity:
Reconciliation Action Plan
The ABS is committed to reconciliation. The ABS assists and encourages informed decision- making, research and discussion among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their communities and organisations, and within governments and the wider community. It does this by leading and coordinating statistical activity involving and relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The ABS Reconciliation Action Plan 2013–2016 sets out actions the ABS will take to:
Table 7.3: Number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples employed in the ABS, 2014-15
Gender Diversity Action Plan
In November 2014, the ABS Gender Diversity Action Plan 2014–17 was introduced. It sets out the organisation's commitment to achieving gender diversity at all levels in the ABS. It aims to do this by identifying and removing barriers to allow women the same access to, and participation in, leadership roles as their male colleagues.
The Gender Diversity Action Plan 2014–17 has four overarching strategies:
Table 7.4: ABS staff by level by gender 2014-15
Excludes the Australian Statistician and unpaid inoperative staff
Agency Multicultural Plan
The ABS Agency Multicultural Plan 2013-15 was released in July 2013. Under the plan, the ABS is committed to improving how we engage and respond to the needs of Australians from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. The ABS works towards fostering an organisation that recognises and supports employees from culturally diverse backgrounds.
Key achievements in 2014-15
TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
In line with the ABS People Plan 2014-15 priorities, 'building core capability' and 'strengthening leadership', the ABS has focused on enhancing the ABS learning approach and building quality programs to enable ABS transformation. Training statistics from 2005-06 to 2014-15 are presented in Table 7.5.
Key achievements in 2014-15
Executive Coaching continues to be accessed by our Executive Level and SES staff to build their leadership capability with 34 employees accessing this service.
External consultation was undertaken in relation to the draft Statistical Capability Framework. The development of the Graduate Certificate of Statistics in partnership with the University of Canberra was an example of our commitment to external partnerships with tertiary institutions, in order to build statistical capability, with 34 employees accessing this service.
The Australian Statistician’s Fellowship Program, which engaged five participants after a competitive selection process, focuses on the development of leadership and critical capabilities. This program is challenging, practical and experiential.
The Graduate Development Program commenced in February 2015 with 44 participants.
The program, which is run over a nine-month period, has been delivered using a blended learning approach. Formal capability development along with networking opportunities enabled graduates to transition effectively into the ABS. Projects continue to form the basis of an experiential learning component.
Table 7.5: ABS employee training days (a)
(b) Comprises full-time and part-time staff operative headcount.
(c) Figures revised down since first published.
(d) Increase due to Census Management Unit operations.
(e) Decrease partly due to move to e-learning approaches.
(f) Continued decrease due to increased e-learning options.
In line with the interim arrangements for APS recruitment introduced by the Australian Public Service Commission in October 2013 (and streamlined in September 2014), priority was given to redeployment of existing staff and the use of higher duties and non-ongoing staff to fill vacant positions for most of 2013-14. With the exception of the graduate campaign and Indigenous Engagement Managers, ABS had not advertised APS positions since that time.
In April 2015 a national APS/EL recruitment strategy was advertised within the APS for positions at the APS4 - EL2 levels across four streams (statistical, methodology, ICT and business delivery), attracting over 2,000 applications. The strategy was a streamlined merit-based process reflecting best practice and designed to provide for maximum flexibility for future staffing decisions. It included a number of initiatives such as a shorter, more focused application process, simplified rating system, and national panels to ensure consistency of assessment. In order to address potential unconscious bias in the shortlisting process, applications were redacted to remove gender and other identifiers.
Graduates are an important source of ABS future leaders and the ABS graduate recruitment campaign continued to attract a large number of applicants from a broad range of disciplines. One-way video interviewing was introduced this year as part of the shortlisting process, to further enhance the robust assessment process.
Preparations are underway for the 2016 Census of Population and Housing with field staff being recruited in selected areas across Australia to undertake preliminary work for the main event in 2016.
WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY
The ABS is committed to fostering a proactive and collaborative approach to the management of work health, safety and wellbeing in the workplace. Specialist teams include a network of Work Health and Safety (WHS) Advisors, with a focus on prevention and wellbeing at work, early intervention and the management of rehabilitation and return to work programs to support managers and workers to implement a safe system of work.
The agency Senior Management Group has responsibility for oversight of the ABS WHS management system.
Key achievements in 2014-15
Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2013-14 included:
CONSULTATION AND COMMUNICATION
The ABS has one national, one interviewer and eight regional Health and Safety Committees. Health and Safety Committees are required to meet at least once every three months. During 2014-15, ABS Health and Safety Committees achieved 84% conformance with this requirement.
Revised WHS guidelines regarding personal protective equipment and first aid were released in 2014-15, following consultation with staff and their representatives. The ABS has also commenced a review of its WHS manual, and will release updated guidelines in 2015-16 following consultation.
In the ABS there are a number of specific WHS roles filled by trained staff:
Table 7.6: WHS Positions and Training, 2014-15
(a) Health and Safety Committee representatives received training in November 2014 and February 2015 to assist them in their role.
PROVISIONAL IMPROVEMENT NOTICES
One Provisional Improvement Notice was issued to the ABS by a Health and Safety Representative during 2014-15 in relation to interviewer work in a remote community. The Provisional Improvement Notice was reviewed by Comcare and closed as the inspector was satisfied with the risk assessment documentation and emergency extraction plans provided to interviewers prior to subsequent remote community deployments.
COMCARE INVESTIGATIONS AND INSPECTIONS
In 2014-15 Comcare conducted four workplace inspections. One contravention of the primary duty of care requirement of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 was found. No notices were issued by Comcare under Part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 during 2014-15.
The ABS has worked collaboratively with Comcare throughout the year on work health and safety and rehabilitation matters. The ABS works with Comcare to understand strategic changes in each organisation and to implement improved practices to reduce workers’ compensation claim numbers and duration. The ABS has invited Comcare inspectors to Health and Safety Representative forums.
The ABS Comcare Premium rate for 2014–15 was 2.46% of total salary including GST.
Table 7.7: Comcare workers' compensation premium rate
INCIDENTS AND INVESTIGATIONS
Under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the ABS is required to report all 'notifiable incidents', which arise from undertaking the business of the ABS. Notifiable incidents include the death of a person, serious injury or illness, or a dangerous incident. There were two notifiable incidents in 2014-15 (one serious injury or illness and one dangerous incident).
WORKPLACE INJURIES AND ILLNESSES
The top three mechanisms of incident resulting in injury or illness reported in the ABS during 2014-15 were body stressing, mental stress and falls, trips and slips. In addition, there were 261 safety incidents reported that resulted in no injury or damage only to property.
There were 19 accepted workers’ compensation claims with a date of injury occurring within 2014-15, compared to 37 in 2013-14.
Table: 7.8 ABS accepted compensable claims by date of injury, 2011-12 to 2014-15 (a)
The ABS is committed to the effective management of ill or injured employees. The People Management and Wellbeing Section strategically assesses and actively manages Comcare compensation claims to assist in returning injured staff to pre-injury duties within the ABS. The Section focused on developing the ABS Rehabilitation Management System following a Comcare audit in March 2014. All action items from the audit have either been signed off or are nearing completion. Current priorities include addressing long-term and high-cost claims and working on proactive approaches through employee education and early intervention.
In 2014-15, the average number of days of unscheduled absence per full-time equivalent (FTE) was 13 days. This aligns with the Australian Government (Large Agency) median over the previous two years (13.4 days per FTE in 2013-14 and 13.7 days per FTE in 2012-13).
Table 7.9: Unscheduled absence: days per FTE (a)
(b) A break in the ABS time series occurred in 2012-13. Therefore, data prior to this period is not comparable.
(c) The Australian Government (Large Agency) median for 2014-15 was not available at the time of preparing this report.
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EAP) UTILISATION
The EAP utilisation rate for ABS office-based staff during 2014-15 was 2.6% compared with 2.2% in 2013-14. The EAP utilisation rate for ABS interviewer staff during 2014-15 was 1.5% compared with 1.3% in 2013-14.
CONSULTATION IN THE ABS
The ABS is committed to effective workplace relations arrangements that value communication, cooperation and effective consultation with employees and their chosen representatives, including union representatives, about matters that affect their workplace.
The ABS consultative framework comprises the following elements:
A meeting of the National Forum was held in November 2014 to discuss the ABS State of the Service Census results, the 2013-14 ABS People Plan, flexible work arrangements and the ABS Workplace Diversity and Reconciliation Action Plans. The National Forum also met in March 2015. The Forum had a strong focus on our people and the future directions of the ABS.
The ABS has a number of industrial instruments in place to cover the employment arrangements for various ABS workforces. The instruments that apply to employees engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 are:
The instruments that apply to employees engaged under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 in accordance with the Statistics Regulations are:
Details of the number of employees covered by an Enterprise Agreement or a Determination under s. 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, as at 30 June 2014, are as follows:
THE ABS SALARY SYSTEM
The ABS Enterprise Agreement 2011-2014 outlined the salary arrangements for non-SES ABS employees for the period 1 July 2013 to 30 June 2014. The last general salary increase was in 2013-14 for APS1 to EL2 employees and was paid from 4 July 2013 as a general salary increase of 1% for all employees. Table 7.10 shows the salary ranges for ABS employees.
A three point salary range was introduced from 24 November 2011 for each classification. Employee salaries were transitioned to the new salary ranges by applying the provisions outlined in clauses 10.1, 10.2 and 12.1 of the ABS Enterprise Agreement 2011–2014, subject to the maximum of the salary range not being exceeded. Employee salaries were not forced to align with the new pay points.
Table 7.10: Salary ranges by classification as at 30 June 2013 (a)
(b) Not applicable (as there is not a maximum level for this classification).
RECOGNITION AND REWARD
The ABS operates a Recognition and Reward Scheme, which recognises exceptional one-off achievements by individual employees and work groups. The awards may include a certificate or medallion of commendation together with a gift voucher or in-kind award such as a work group morning tea or lunch.
Organisational guidelines have been developed to ensure consistent conduct of recognition and reward in the ABS.
Total ABS expenditure for the scheme in 2014-15 was $79,936.
There is also an annual Statistician's Award that recognises extraordinary contributions made to the ABS by individual employees. The quantum of this award is not prescribed, but may take the form of a significant non-cash reward or development opportunity.
In January 2015, Australian Statistician's Awards were presented to four staff:
PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT IN THE ABS
The ABS is committed to being a high-performing public agency, promoting a people-oriented culture through a focus on leadership, communication, innovation and engagement.
The ABS Development and Performance Framework (DPF) is designed to increase organisational performance by supporting all employees to maximise their performance through individual development, job satisfaction and positive, trusted working relationships.
The ABS Development and Performance Agreement was recently updated to accommodate the performance management changes to the Public Service Act 1999 that came into effect on 1 July 2015. To further enrich the performance culture within the ABS the successful Managing for Performance Improvement program, which aimed to increase the capability of managers by optimising existing APS and ABS performance management initiatives, is being transitioned into a blended learning program with e-learning modules provided for easier access.
The People Capability Framework (PCF), which complements the DPF and coincides with the start-of-cycle Development and Performance Agreement process, is designed to help managers and staff have more meaningful and structured development conversations, feeding into the development component of the DPF. Aggregate PCF results from the evaluation enable the ABS to:
The PCF demonstrates the ABS commitment to the APS employment principle that requires effective performance from each employee.
During 2014-15, the ABS was committed to the principles of Ecological Sustainable Development as outlined in the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
In accordance with the EPBC Act, which requires agencies to report on aspects of their performance relating to ecologically sustainable development, the ABS has two key roles. The first of these is in relation to the ABS’s responsibility for providing statistics on the environment and environmental issues to enable informed decision-making. The second role relates to the impact of the ABS’s operations on the environment and the action being taken by the ABS to minimise that impact.
The ABS's response to the five components of sub-section 516A (6), as required by the EPBC Act, is described below.
516A (6) (a) How do the activities of the organisation, and the administration of legislation by the organisation, accord with the principles of ecologically sustainable development?
The ABS has an endorsed Environmental Policy Statement which articulates our commitment to the identification and pursuit of effective environmental practices. In accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development, the ABS pursues environmentally positive practices by:
The ABS has implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS), which identifies, implements and promotes environmentally sensitive operations.
516A (6) (b) How do the outcomes specified in a relevant Appropriations Act contribute to ecologically sustainable development?
The ABS receives appropriation for the purpose of producing statistics that inform decision-making on a wide range of social and economic matters.
The ABS works closely with the community and governments to build information on environmental statistics further, to complement the more established information bases on population, society and the economy. The focus of this development work is the integration of environmental statistics with Australia’s economic and social statistics.
For more information on ABS statistical publications and developments, please see the Program Reports for:
516A (6) (c) What is the effect of the organisation's activities on the environment?
The ABS seeks to minimise its impact on the environment through a number of measures, consistent with aims identified in its EMS.
Identify, implement and promote environmental management systems and operations
Since 2009, the ABS has maintained an EMS at its largest office site, ABS House in Canberra.
Operate in an environmentally responsible manner and where practical, reduce energy, waste and other resources
Comply with relevant Commonwealth and territory environment legislation and the Australian Government's environmental policies and initiatives
ABS developed an ICT Energy Management Plan in alignment with requirements and targets set by the ICT Sustainability Plan 2010–2015, which includes:
Encourage and promote environmentally sound procurement practices in compliance with Commonwealth Procurement Rules
Provide an environmentally sound workplace and implement environmentally sound work practices
Monitor our programs and implement processes of continuous improvement
Develop an environmentally responsible culture across all levels of our organisation and consult, educate, train and motivate staff about their environmental responsibilities
516A (6) (d) What measures are taken by the organisation to minimise the impact of its activities on the environment?
The ABS's activities have the potential to affect the environment through consumption of energy and water, waste production and waste sent to landfill. A number of ongoing action plans, with relevant targets and objectives have been put in place to reduce the ABS’s environmental impact. These aim to:
516A (6) (e) What are the mechanisms for reviewing and increasing effectiveness of these measures?
The ABS has implemented an EMS at its largest site, ABS House in Canberra, and continues to monitor the activities of the organisation that have an environmental impact. Objectives and targets are set each year to manage and reduce the environmental impact.
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