Year in review

AEC overview

Report on performance: Outcome 1

Report on performance: Outcome 2

Report on performance: Outcome 3

Management and accountability

Financial performance and future operations



Human resources

Updated: 20 December 2010


The AEC's human resources management framework is designed to provide a workforce that has the necessary skills, flexibility and diversity to meet the AEC's current and future business needs, assisted by access to learning and development opportunities and effective communication and sharing of information. This is reinforced by effective performance management, and relevant health and safety practices.

The Human Resources Strategy and Development (HRSD) section plays an internal consultancy role to support the human resources functions of the AEC's national, state and divisional offices. In 2008–09, the section continued to place strong emphasis on coaching and training managers to ensure the full ambit of people management issues were dealt with effectively and in accordance with policies.

In 2008–09, the HRSD section focused on:

  • achieving better integration of human resource measurement tools with business planning activities
  • improving and streamlining recruitment activities
  • implementing the new Health and Safety Management Arrangements.

Workforce planning

During 2008–09, as part of a coordinated effort to improve organisational capability, the AEC developed a Capability Framework based on the Australian Public Service Commission's Integrated Leadership System (ILS). The Capability Framework will assist the AEC to identify and describe the leadership capabilities that all employees need to effectively perform at their classification levels now and in the future. The Capability Framework is complemented by the Learning and Development Framework also completed in 2008–09, which provides an integrated approach to the development, delivery and evaluation of learning and development programs designed to enhance the capabilities of AEC staff.

Workforce planning guides, developed in 2007–08, were provided to all branch and state managers in 2008–09. Managers use the guides, together with local knowledge of human resources issues, to develop and enhance strategies to achieve improved outcomes in the current business cycle. These strategies will be captured in action plans that will collectively assist the AEC to identify capability gaps, and will guide succession planning efforts and future learning and development activities.

Attraction and retention

As a result of a recruitment review undertaken in 2007–08, the AEC worked to improve the marketing of employment opportunities and retention of staff during 2008–09. The AEC has successfully introduced selection documentation for all positions against the ILS. The HRSD recruitment team works closely with line areas to ensure the Capability Framework is consistently interpreted and applied during the development of selection documentation. This brings AEC recruitment practices in line with broader APS practices.

To further improve recruitment processes across the AEC's uniquely distributed network, the HRSD recruitment team also:

  • trialled the use of a common access drive that provides access for selection panel members to all applications received for advertised positions. The new system will be more cost- and resource-effective. From the date of advertising, panel members can now access applications as soon as they are received. The previous practice, whereby the applications were collated, printed and mailed out by the recruitment area after the application period closed, was both inefficient and costly
  • rationalised advertising practices by adopting nationally consistent branding and design of advertisements and, where appropriate, placing all AEC vacancies in one advertisement. The new approach coincides with the introduction of new guidelines on recruitment advertising that will be applied to all agencies subject to the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 from 1 July 2009
  • developed metrics to facilitate reporting on recruitment timelines, to be introduced from 1 July 2009. Open recruitment processes will be monitored and reported on monthly to measure and improve performance in finalising recruitment processes.

The AEC employs a large number of temporary staff under the Electoral Act to assist with electoral activities. To streamline recruitment processes, a scoping study and technical evaluation were undertaken in conjunction with the New South Wales Electoral Commission to determine whether its online system could be adapted to suit AEC needs. At 30 June 2009, a business case was being developed to support the implementation of the technology in the AEC; the business case will be considered in 2009–10.

In addition to conducting a successful graduate program, the AEC engaged four young people through the Department of Finance and Deregulation's Year 12 Career Starters Program. The 2009 AEC graduates are participating in the Small Agency Graduate Development Program and will, on successful completion, receive a Diploma of Government.

The AEC employee retention rate for 2008–09 was 84.4 per cent, slightly less than the 2007–08 rate of 85.9 per cent. To improve performance in this area, the HRSD is currently reviewing a number of potential retention strategies for mature-aged staff, including adopting 'transition to retirement' arrangements and developing an alumni program within the AEC.

To promote retention of talented staff, the AEC conducts surveys, such as exit surveys and new starter surveys, to monitor staff engagement and morale. Survey results are used to inform the development of people strategies, such as leadership development programs. They are also being used to inform the development of a new recognition and reward program.

Staff consultation

The AEC has both state/territory and national consultative forums that collectively provide all employees with a forum to raise issues that affect them in the workplace. Elections are held to select employee representatives, who may self-nominate to participate. The employee representatives on the national consultative forum were elected by staff in October 2008.

The AEC also uses a variety of internal surveys to seek feedback on existing products and services and on proposed changes. In 2009, these included a survey of employees' views on the Performance Management Program and a customer satisfaction survey on information and communications technology service levels.

As part of its commitment to continuous improvement and staff engagement, the AEC made a significant investment in consulting staff about issues identified in the 2008 State of the Service Employee Survey. A series of workshops, involving a random but representative sample of employees from across the AEC, has been commissioned.

An action plan to address the areas of concern will be developed in late 2009.

In 2009–10, the AEC will commence negotiations for the next enterprise agreement. The AEC is monitoring developments in workplace relations legislation to ensure that its approach to the negotiation process will be up-to-date and effective.

Employment agreements

The majority of AEC employees are covered by the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10. The terms and conditions of a small portion of staff are specified in unexpired Australian Workplace Agreements (AWAs). Since the Australian Government's instruction to cease offering AWAs in 2008, the Electoral Commissioner has determined additional benefits for a small number of staff under s. 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Collective agreement

During the reporting period, the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10 applied to all AEC staff below senior executive level employed under the Public Service Act 1999, except those on AWAs (22 employees) at 30 June 2009.

The salary bands available under the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10 are shown in Table 30.

Table 30 AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10 salary ranges, by classification, 2008–09
Classification Remuneration band ($) Classification Remuneration band ($)
Executive Level 2 93 029–108 434 APS Level 4 52 338–57 354
Executive Level 1 80 697–90 938 APS Level 3 46 959–51 460
APS Level 6 64 618–72 423 APS Level 2 41 226–45 719
APS Level 5 58 374–63 973 APS Level 1 36 428–40 261

Australian workplace agreements

Existing AWAs in the AEC broadly reflect the employment conditions available under the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10, while providing access to individually determined benefits and work arrangements, such as agreed working hours and extended salary.

The classifications and numbers of staff covered by AWAs are shown in Table 31.

Table 31 Employees covered by Australian Workplace Agreements, 30 June 2009
Classification Staff covered
Senior Executive 5
Executive levels 1–2 21
APS level 1–6 1
Total 27

Section 24(1) determinations

In 2008–09, the terms and conditions of employment of three Senior Executive Service (SES) employees were set by determination under s. 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999. The classifications and numbers of staff covered by s. 24(1) determinations are shown in Table 32.

In addition, nine individuals. 24(1) determinations were made to employees to supplement the terms and conditions provided in the AEC Collective Agreement 2007–10.

Table 32 Employees covered by s. 24(1) determinations, 30 June 2009
Classification Staff covered
Senior Executive 3
Executive levels 1–2 8
APS level 1–6 1
Total 12

Performance pay

All salary progression in the AEC is subject to meeting required performance standards. The AEC did not offer performance bonuses to employees below the SES level.

The Electoral Commissioner determines performance pay for those statutory appointees designated as Principal Executive Office holders under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973, in accordance with parameters set by the Remuneration Tribunal.

The Electoral Commissioner also determines performance pay for SES staff employed under the Electoral Act or the Public Service Act 1999, in accordance with the AEC's senior executive performance appraisal guidelines and remuneration policy.

A total of nine statutory appointees and 11 senior executives were eligible for performance pay during 2008–09, for performance in the 2007–08 financial year. The aggregate amount paid for the year was $366 201. The performance pay average was 11.6 per cent of the employee's total remuneration, with the minimum payment being $8 528 and the maximum $33 692. Due to the small number of executives in each classification band, the AEC has not disaggregated the payment of performance bonus information. Executive salary rates are shown in Table 29.

Staff development

As a result of feedback from attendees at the 2007 national post-election conference, the AEC commenced a review of its operational training program in 2008–09. The National Operational Training Working Party, which contains representatives from national, state and divisional offices, was formed in July 2008 and has been working to review, redesign and implement a new operational training program.

The AEC also restructured its Learning and Development Framework to deliver a higher level of support and learning options. The redeveloped framework supports a blended learning solution. A blended learning solution supports the different learning styles of adults by providing different learning options such as facilitator-led training, self-paced learning and e-learning. In 2009–10, the AEC will implement a learning management system that will provide a robust platform to support the framework.

Following the delivery and evaluation of the 2007–08 AEC leadership program, the AEC engaged TAFE Tasmania to design and develop a 'management fundamentals' program for AEC staff at the APS 6 and Executive Level 1 levels. Within this program, five key capability areas were identified as those required by 'front-line' managers: people management, communication, financial management, project management, and risk management. A pilot program was delivered to staff located in national, state and divisional offices. Positive feedback was received from participants in the pilot program, which is being reviewed and considered for expansion during 2009–10.

The AEC launched a national induction program in 2008–09. As a part of this program, the modules contained in the existing induction training program were revised in line with the Australian Public Service Commission model. It is a 30–60 minute web-based learning program for employees who are new to either the APS or the AEC.

The AEC continues to strengthen leadership capability through participation in the Australian Public Service Commission's Career Development Assessment Centre; three managers attended the program during 2008–09.

The AEC hosted a placement opportunity for a senior electoral official from Samoa on the 2008 Pacific Islands Scholarships for Governance Program. Under the scheme, AusAID funds senior public servants from Pacific Island countries to work for two months in a relevant Australian Government agency. The Samoa Office of the Electoral Commissioner is a newly established independent office. The work placement provided an opportunity for the participant to develop leadership and management skills and knowledge directly through workplace experiences. Among other activities, the participant undertook a comprehensive study of the role of the AEC's national office, including how it interacts with AEC state and divisional offices and international electoral offices.

Performance management

The AEC's Performance Management Program (PMP) was reviewed in 2008–09. The review was informed by the results of various employee surveys, including the PMP Survey conducted in late 2008. Further consultation on managing underperformance and other employee engagement issues will occur in a series of workshops, to be conducted in July and August 2009. The results will inform the development of a new PMP for the AEC, which will be launched in 2010. The current PMP has been enhanced by the release of the AEC's Capability Framework and work has commenced on developing a series of job profiles for divisional office staff.

Occupational health and safety

In 2008–09, the AEC maintained its commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all its employees through its policies for the management of compensable and non-compensable injuries and illnesses. The OHS and Injury Management Plan 2008–10 assisted the AEC in tracking its occupational health and safety (OHS) performance.

Following the introduction of Health and Safety Management Arrangements in 2007–08, the AEC commenced implementation of the new arrangements, including the election and training of health and safety representatives and first aid officers.

In 2008–09, the AEC developed and implemented the following policies:

  • Managing Attendance Policy
  • Working in Remote Localities Policy and Guidelines
  • Workplace Bullying Policy and Guidelines.

Following the release of the AEC's Managing Attendance Policy and Procedures and a Managers' Toolkit, a series of workshops was held with managers across the AEC between May and August 2008. As a result of these activities and more robust monitoring and reporting, the AEC's unscheduled absences fell from 11.49 days per full-time equivalent in 2007–08 to 10.37 days per full-time equivalent in 2008–09.

In May 2009, the AEC responded to the H1N1 Influenza outbreak by providing advice to all staff, including links to all relevant websites, via the intranet. All offices were provided with posters for display in the workplace and staff were provided with antiseptic gel for washing hands and anti-bacterial wipes. As updates were received from the relevant organisations information was updated and posted on the intranet.

The AEC continued to focus on timely and effective injury management, particularly early intervention strategies to return employees to work in accordance with AEC policies and guidelines and Comcare legislation. This more proactive approach has contributed to a significant reduction in the AEC's 2009–10 Comcare premium.

During 2008–09, the AEC managed a total of 55 workers compensation claims, of which nine were new claims. This is significantly fewer than the number (69) managed in 2007–08, an election year, which is consistent with the AEC's previous experience. The AEC managed 30 non-compensable cases, which were handled under the AEC's Fitness for Continued Duty guidelines.

There were 45 reported accidents and incidents involving staff in 2008–09. The majority were trips and falls and no serious injuries were sustained.

Workplace diversity

The AEC's commitment to workplace diversity is outlined in the AEC Service Charter; the Collective Agreement 2007–10; the Workplace Diversity Program 2007–10; the Disability Action Plan 2007–09; recruitment and selection guidelines; and the induction program. The main objective of the Workplace Diversity Plan 2008–11 is to establish how the AEC will give effect to the principles outlined in its workplace diversity policy and will provide a harmonious, safe and productive environment.

A draft reconciliation plan was developed during 2008–09 and will be launched when additional content, relating to activities supporting the Australian Government's new Indigenous Electoral Participation Program, has been incorporated. This will be complemented by an Indigenous employment strategy.

The AEC provides flexible working conditions to its employees; findings from the Australian Public Service Commission's 2007–08 State of the Service Employee Survey confirmed that flexibility is one of the most important workplace attributes impacting on job satisfaction in the AEC. The survey also revealed that 86 per cent of AEC staff are satisfied with their access to those flexible working arrangements and 89 per cent believe that the AEC values and manages diversity in the workplace moderately well to very well.

Table 33 shows the representation of particular groups by proportion of total staff members and classification at 30 June 2009.

Table 33 Workplace diversity profile, 30 June 2009
  Total staffa Female ATSI CLDB PWD
Senior executive staff and Australian Electoral Officers 21 8 0 2 1
Executive Level 2 37 17 0 1 1
Executive Level 1 90 44 1 12 2
APS Level 6 234 110 2 10 6
APS Level 5 48 24 0 6 1
APS Level 4 65 44 0 8 1
APS Level 3 175 141 1 9 1
APS Level 2 159 145 2 9 2
APS Level 1 5 2 0 0 0
Total 834 535 6 57 15
Population of total (%) 100.0 64.2 0.7 6.8 1.8

ATSI = people from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander backgrounds; CLDB = self-identified people from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds; PWD = people with disabilities. A staff member could be classified under one, two or all three of these headings.

a Includes all staff (operative, inoperative, ongoing and non-ongoing) employed under the Public Service Act 1999, senior executive staff engaged under both s. 35(1)(b) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Public Service Act 1999 and Australian Electoral Officers in the AEC on 30 June 2009.

Source: PayGlobal HR System as at 1 July 2009.