1001.0 - Annual Report - ABS Annual Report, 2005-06  
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Contents >> Section 6 - How the ABS Operates >> Chapter 19 - Management of human resources

Chapter 19 - Management of human resources

INTRODUCTION

The ABS depends on the combined efforts of capable and motivated employees to achieve its objectives. The ABS needs people who can understand Australia's evolving information needs, and can assist the ABS to satisfy those needs; people who understand the changes to the environment in which the ABS operates, and can help the ABS to adapt to those changes; people with both professional competence and a commitment to ABS values. As such, human resource management is a critical function within the ABS.

As at 30 June 2006, there were 3,514 staff employed at the ABS under the Public Service Act 1999 – 1,724 males and 1,790 females. This includes operative, paid inoperative and unpaid inoperative staff. There were also 652 staff employed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975 to assist with data collection, mostly household survey interviewers. These numbers do not include the 30,000 temporary staff employed as part of the 2006 Census of Population and Housing collection operations.

The tables below present the profile of ABS staff by employment classification and sex, and by location and type of employment for operative and paid inoperative staff. They exclude staff employed under the ABS Act, and 136 unpaid inoperative staff.

GRAPH 19.1: EMPLOYMENT CLASSIFICATION BY SEX, 30 June 2006(a)

Graph 19.1: Employment Classification by Sex, 30 June 2006
(a) operative and paid inoperative staff
(b) includes Statistician (statutory appointment)




TABLE 19.1: NUMBER OF ABS STAFF BY LOCATION AND STATUS, at 30 June 2006(a)

Ongoing
Non-ongoing

Full-time
Part-time
Full-time
Part-time
Total
Central office (ACT)
1423
210
36
77
1746
NSW
263
29
44
61
397
Victoria
222
34
24
3
283
Queensland
137
13
36
1
187
WA
175
16
48
12
251
SA
143
25
20
8
196
Tasmania
91
12
5
1
109
NT
34
5
15
2
56
ACT
14
0
5
0
19
DPC (Melbourne)
50
0
83
1
134
Total
2552
344
316
166
3378

(a) Includes operative and paid inoperative staff

The number of women in the Senior Executive Service (SES) in the ABS has been increasing, and women now constitute a third of the SES.


TABLE 19.2: NUMBER OF ABS SENIOR EXECUTIVE STAFF (SES): By level, sex and year(a)



SES Level
Sex

Year (at 30 June)
1
2
3
Male
Female
Total
2003
26
6
2
28
6
34
2004 (r)
26
5
2
26
7
33
2005
26
6
2
26
8
34
2006
25
6
2
22
11
33

(a) Includes only operative, substantive SES officers, but excludes the Australian Statistician, who is a statutory office holder appointed under the Australian Bureau of Statistics Act 1975
(r) Revised

AUSTRALIAN PUBLIC SERVICE VALUES IN THE ABS

The Australian Public Service (APS) values are actively promoted and strongly adhered to throughout the ABS. The APS values are congruent with the ABS values, which are fundamental to the ABS performing its role as a trusted provider of statistical information. The ABS values are discussed further in chapter 19.

The importance of the APS values is reflected and integrated into the day to day management and operations of the ABS. For example, the obligations of employees to uphold the APS values and abide by the APS Code of Conduct are: promoted in training courses from induction through to senior management development programs; actively applied through personnel management processes; supported by guidelines and procedures which themselves take account of the APS values; reflected throughout ABS corporate material which is readily accessible to employees through the ABS Intranet; and promoted via posters and the distribution of bookmarks to all employees and new recruits.

WORKFORCE SHAPING

Workforce shaping is a high priority for the ABS and is being undertaken to ensure there are enough staff with the right skills and capabilities in order for the ABS to meet its business objectives now and into the future. The term 'workforce shaping' (rather than workforce planning) has been adopted by the ABS as it implies a more comprehensive process, which focuses on influencing the shape of the workforce in order to best achieve organisational outcomes. The focus on workforce shaping also responds to continuing pressure to attract and recruit capable staff, together with an increasing need to induct and retain staff in whom we are investing development effort.

The approach to workforce shaping being adopted in the ABS is business driven, with issues being determined in conjunction with the business areas and based on business goals and objectives. This approach has resulted in the identification of priority workforce issues which will form the basis of workforce strategies to be investigated and progressed in 2006–07.

The identified priorities include:
    • identifying and obtaining capabilities required in the future
    • reviewing the way ABS structures work and the impact of the classification profile of the organisation
    • implementing more flexible placements of work across the ABS, and
    • implementing targeted retention strategies.
The process has also helped the ABS place new and emerging people issues into context.

Image: Staff from the ABS joining in the centenary celebrations at ABS House in Canberra on 8 December 2005
Staff from the ABS joining in the centenary celebrations at ABS House in Canberra on 8 December 2005.

RECRUITMENT

Improving the recruitment strategy, processes and practices has been a key organisational priority throughout 2005–06. In concert with much of the Australian public service, the ABS faces a tightening labour market and a changing workforce and there continues to be pressure to source and recruit capable staff. To meet the sustained high level of recruitment activity needed, the ABS has focused on improving attraction and recruitment processes as well as strengthening recruitment capability. There is commitment to delivering both a strategic recruitment framework and timely and efficient recruitment services that are focused on facilitating the attraction and selection of high calibre candidates.

The ABS is working progressively toward improving alignment of recruitment activities with business needs. Further refinement of recruitment business processes has taken place and there is fostering of an environment that better supports and guides managers, employees and candidates. To achieve this, throughout 2005–06 the ABS has focused on:
    • improving the capabilities of selection panels and delegates through formal training programs
    • trialling a range of methods for assessing applicants, including work skill testing and psychometric testing
    • developing resources, tools and guidelines for applicants, panels and delegates
    • fostering improved client relationships through the establishment of regular recruitment forums and establishment of service level agreements with ABS regional clients and stakeholders
    • improving the quality and consistency of advertising and leveraging better the ABS brand, and
    • improving graduate recruitment strategies including the introduction of a mid year intake.
CONSULTATION IN THE ABS

The ABS is committed to communication and cooperation, which is reflected in its consultative framework. The ABS consultative framework includes: line managers who act as conduits of timely, relevant information; 13 consultative forums which provide employees with the opportunity to participate in and contribute their views on a range of issues; employee representatives; and an annual ABS National Forum which includes participants from each consultative forum, management and employee organisations.

The 2006 National Forum was held in March. The key topics of discussion were:
    • the National Statistical Service
    • progress towards addressing identified issues from the 2004 employee survey
    • occupational health and safety
    • ABS certified agreement process
    • freedom of association
    • directions and developments of the National Statistical Training Institute
    • the capability framework, and
    • workplace diversity.

AGREEMENT MAKING

2005–06 has been a very active agreement making year, with three industrial agreements certified by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission:
    • 2006 Census of Population and Housing Data Processing Centre Certified Agreement 2005–2007, certified on 5 July 2005
    • ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005-2008, certified on 12 July 2005, and
    • ABS Certified Agreement 2006–2009, certified on 8 March 2006.
All the agreements were certified prior to the amendment of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 by the Workplace Relations Amendment (WorkChoices) Act 2005.

The 2006 Census of Population and Housing Data Processing Centre Certified Agreement 2005–2007 is a 'greenfields' agreement, negotiated with the Community and Public Sector Union under section 170LL of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

The ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2005-2008 was developed in consultation with ABS interviewers and their representatives under section 170LK of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Extensive consultation occurred with employees and their representatives to develop the ABS Certified Agreement 2006-2009 under section 170LK of the Workplace Relations Act 1996. The agreement was voted on and accepted by a valid and strong majority of employees on 3 March 2006 (63% of eligible voters voted on the ABS Certified Agreement 2006-09 and 83% of these voted for the agreement).

The key features of the agreement focus on:
    • providing fair and equitable remuneration arrangements to assist the ABS to attract and retain highly effective employees
    • encouraging and rewarding individual and team achievements
    • providing fair and flexible conditions of employment including options to work from home
    • creating an environment where employees can pursue learning opportunities to enhance their career options whilst meeting organisation needs
    • simplifying administrative processes
    • providing continued improvement in productivity and efficiency, and
    • providing open communication and consultation.
Consultation on the certified agreements took place in very positive and productive environments, as evidenced by the acceptance of all three agreements at their initial ballots.

The ABS is currently preparing Australian Workplace Agreements under the Workplace Relations Act 1996 as amended by WorkChoices.

Details of the number of staff covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement or a Certified Agreement at 30 June 2006 are as follows:
    • ABS staff covered by an Australian Workplace Agreement:
        • 32 Senior Executive Service (SES)
        • 57 Non SES staff
    • ABS staff covered by the ABS Certified Agreement 2006–2009 – 3425
    • 652 ABS interviewers covered by the ABS Interviewers Certified Agreement 2003–2005.
The number of non SES staff on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA) is relatively low this year, in comparison to previous years. The reason for the low number is that most non SES AWAs were terminated by agreement when their nominal expiry dates passed, and the ABS is preparing new non SES AWAs. There has been a delay in the release of the new AWAs as they are being prepared to meet the requirements in the amended Workplace Relations Act 1996.

TABLE 19.3: SALARY RANGES AVAILABLE BY CLASSIFICATION AS AT 30 JUNE 2006(a)


Classification
Minimum ($)
Maximum ($)

Australian Public Service (APS) level
APS1 (Adult)
32,846
36,132
APS2
37,175
40,892
APS3
42,339
46,572
APS4
47,663
52,428
APS5
53,162
58,478
APS6
60,470
66,516
Executive Officer Level (EL)
EL1
74,006
81,406
EL2
93,564
102,920
Senior Executive Service (SES) level
SES Band 1
113,001
138,482
SES Band 2
138,482
167,391
SES Band 3
167,391
n.a.(b)

(a) The APS1 to EL2 salary ranges took effect from 29 June 2006. SES Band 1 to SES Band 3 salary ranges took effect from 1 January 2006.
(b) n.a. not applicable (as there is not a maximum level for this classification)

THE ABS SALARY SYSTEM

The ABS Certified Agreement 2003-2006 outlines the salary arrangements for ABS employees effective during 2005–06.

In 2005–06, salary increases for APS1 to EL2 employees were paid on 14 July 2005, with two components to the salary increases:
    • a general increase of three per cent
    • a performance based increase of:
        • 1.5 times the general salary increase, for those employees rated Fully Effective
        • 2.0 times the general salary increase, for those employees rated Outstanding.
In July 2005, the minimum and maximum amounts of the salary ranges were increased by three per cent so they were more closely aligned with those operating in other Australian Public Service agencies.

In addition to increases in base salary, provisions were made for APS1 to EL2 employees rated as outstanding, and whose salary was very close to the maximum of the current range or within $500 from the maximum of the current range, to be moved to the maximum of the new range. In addition, they were paid a one-off lump sum bonus, the greater of 1 per cent of their current salary less the difference between their current salary and the top of the current range, or $500 less the difference between their current salary and the top of the current range.

Under this process, during 2005–06, the total amount paid as one-off lump sum bonus payments was $97,381 to 185 employees.

From 6 April 2006, the EL2 salary range bandwidth was reduced from 14% to 10% by increasing the minimum salary point. EL2 employees' salaries were moved to the same relative positions along the reduced range. Also from 6 April 2006 a one-off adjustment was made to the salary ranges of APS4 to EL2 employees to bring ABS salary ranges closer to the APS median ranges.

Table 19.4 shows the performance pay component of the salary increases paid in 2005–06.

TABLE 19.4: PERFORMANCE BASED SALARY INCREMENTS BY LEVEL (2005-2006)



Classification
Number
Aggregate ($)
Average ($)

Australian Public Service (APS) level
APS1 APS2 APS3
14 38 273
6,872 10,518 154,547
491 277 566
APS4
471
316,019
671
APS5
521
427,349
820
APS6
706
612,982
868
Executive Officer Level (EL)
EL1
432
370,211
857
EL2
162
213,080
1,315
Senior Executive Service (SES) level
SES1
31
78,342
2,527
SES2 and 3
7
23,257
3,322
Total
2,655
2,213,177

n.a. Not applicable.

REWARD AND RECOGNITION

The ABS operates a Reward and Recognition Scheme to recognise exceptional one-off achievements by individuals and work groups. Rewards may be made in the form of certificates, hospitality (such as work group lunches), prepaid vouchers and cash bonuses. The emphasis is on rewarding and recognising work groups. Total ABS expenditure for the scheme in 2005–06 was $117,469.93.

LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT

The objective of learning and development activities is to ensure that the ABS has the organisational capability to respond to business challenges both now and in the future. In line with this objective, there has been a significant increase in ABS staff training attendance over the past 12 months, with average training days per employee increasing from 4.8 days in 2004/2005 to 6.2 days in 2005/2006.

In line with learning and development objectives, a capability framework has been developed that describes the skills, behaviours, knowledge and attributes required of all employees in the ABS. This includes ABS-wide as well as job specific capabilities. The framework has improved understanding of learning needs, and access to learning. It makes a significant contribution to workforce capability profiling and planning. Based on the capability framework, this Organisational, People and Learning System (OPALS) was launched in 2005/06. This system allows for improved analysis of development needs across the ABS and is being used to develop individual and divisional training programs for the year ahead.

There has been substantial effort made to improve both the range and relevance of learning activities provided to ABS employees, particularly in the areas of statistical, leadership and management training. The suite of learning and development activities has expanded to include a greater emphasis on e-learning as well as a revised Strategic Management Program (for executive level staff) and increased delivery of other high-demand programs. In addition, the relationship between the Learning and Development area and other areas of the ABS has been further strengthened through the introduction of learning and development account managers.

Table 19.5 shows the number of staff who attended training throughout 2005–06.

TABLE 19.5: ABS STAFF TRAINING(a)

Total ABS operative staff (b)
Attendance days
Average training days

2002–03
2,909
14,797
5.1
2003–04
2,800
10,431
3.7
2004–05
2,630
12,562
4.8
2005–06
2,865
17,822
6.2

(a) Excludes on-the-job training.
(b) Comprises full time and part time staff at their full time equivalent.

In relation to statistical training conducted through the ABS' National Statistical Training Institute (NSTI), there has been an increase in the number of training programs scheduled for external clients as well as improved information on the ABS internet site for potential clients. Further information on external training days is detailed in chapter 11.

The ABS also supports the development of statistical skills by conducting a scholarship program for university students studying mathematics/statistics. The program provides for approximately 16 scholarships at an annual cost of $64,000 and currently operates at four Australian universities (the Australian National University, the University of Wollongong, the University of Queensland and Adelaide University).

OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY

The ABS is committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy workplace, and meeting its responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991 (OHS (CE) Act). Demonstrating this commitment, the Australian Statistician signed the ABS Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Policy and Agreement, which provides the framework for OHS in the ABS, and a Statement of Commitment with Comcare that aims to significantly improve OHS outcomes by 2012.

A dedicated section in the ABS' central office, complemented by representatives in all regional offices, ensures the requirements of the OHS (CE) Act and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 are observed. A network of OHS committees is the vehicle for consultation on OHS issues affecting staff.

During 2005–06, 41 employees were selected or elected as Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) under the OHS (CE) Act with most receiving training during the year.

There were 15 notifiable accidents reported to Comcare in 2005–06.

Investigations

During 2005–06 there were no Comcare OHS investigations undertaken in the ABS.

Injuries and Illness

During 2005–06, the ABS invested in a risk management approach to the prevention of illness and injuries, which has resulted in a substantial reduction in the incidence of workplace injuries. Key features of this approach included: a national workplace inspection program involving OHS inspections of all ABS workplaces; increased employee awareness and compliance in reporting of hazards in the workplace; the investigation of accidents, incidents and near misses in the workplace; and immediate preventative interventions to address pain, discomfort or other signs of potential injury that are reported by employees.

Table 19.6 details a comparison of workers' compensation claims for the periods 2002–03 to 2005–06.
TABLE 19.6: WORKPLACE INJURIES AND COSTS

Year
Claim Incidence

2002–03
116
2003–04
115
2004–05
98
2005–06
68


Rehabilitation

The ABS institutes early intervention and rehabilitation in both compensable and non-compensable cases. National awareness training for employees and managers, complemented by ongoing training for ABS rehabilitation case managers and OHS Coordinators, was held during the year to enhance rehabilitation performance at the ABS.

Comcare Premiums

Comcare provided notification that the ABS workers' compensation premium for 2006–07 has been set at 1.69 per cent of total salary (including GST). Improved injury prevention and management strategies including a high priority on early intervention has resulted in a reduction in the 2006–07 premium by nearly $900,000.

Table 19.7 provides details of the ABS and the agency pool average premium rate.

TABLE 19.7: COMCARE WORKERS' COMPENSATION PREMIUM RATE (% of wage and salary expenditure)

2003-04
2004-05
2005-06
2006-07

ABS
1.33
1.76
1.88
1.69
Agency pool average
1.43
1.67
1.77
1.77


Achievements

Measures taken to ensure the health, safety and welfare of employees during 2005–06 included:
    • education and awareness sessions for employees and managers on their OHS responsibilities, preventing injuries, and OHS risk management
    • the implementation of an annual National Workplace Inspection Program to identify hazards and assess and minimise identified risks to ABS staff and that also sets the benchmark for annual inspections
    • the development and launch of systems to promote early intervention and improve the management of rehabilitation in the ABS
    • the continued promotion of health and fitness across the ABS, and
    • the continued enhancement and development of the ABS OHS policy framework.

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