Annual Report 2014–15

5Managing resources and assets

Human resource management

The AEC employs a range of strategic workforce initiatives to recruit, retain, manage and train its employees. The People Services Branch is responsible for all workforce planning, learning, human resource systems, employee relations and employee services.

Overview

AEC employees are located throughout Australia in a network of divisional, state and territory offices, including a national office located in Canberra. As at 30 June 2015, the AEC had a regular workforce of 834 staff, a casual workforce of 739 irregular or intermittent staff, plus a temporary election workforce of over 70 000 polling officials.

Working for the AEC

One of the AEC’s greatest strengths is the skill and talent of its staff. The recruitment, development and retention of professional staff is of high importance to the AEC. In 2014–15, the agency continued strengthen the approach to learning and development in line with the Learning and Development (L&D) Blueprint.

Employment agreements

The AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–14 covers the majority of AEC staff. Table 41 in Appendix H illustrates the salary ranges for each classification under the agreement. The AEC is in negotiations for a replacement Enterprise Agreement as the current agreement nominally expired on 30 June 2014. Negotiations are being conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and the Australian Government Public Sector Workplace Bargaining Policy.

Australian workplace agreements

An Australian Workplace Agreement covered one senior executive service officer.

Section 24(1) determinations

In 2014–15, the terms and conditions of employment of eight employees, predominantly senior executive service and executive level officers, were set by individual determinations under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999.

Collective Determination under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918

The AEC has a collective determination for staff engaged under the Electoral Act. The collective determination covers temporary staff, such as polling officials, for the election period only and sets the terms and conditions, hourly rates of pay and other entitlements.

These terms and conditions are set by the Electoral Commissioner under section 35 of the Electoral Act. While there were no electoral events conducted in the 2014–15 period, the AEC ensured that a draft Collective Determination was in place should it be required. It has been updated to reflect legislative changes to salary, superannuation and allowances.

Individual flexibility arrangements

To meet the needs of the AEC and individual employees, under the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–14, the Electoral Commissioner may agree to individual flexibility arrangements with employees, for one or more of the following:

  • working hours
  • overtime rates
  • penalty rates
  • allowances
  • remuneration
  • leave.

During 2014–15 there were 30 new individual flexibility arrangements agreed to by the Electoral Commissioner. The majority of these reflected the ongoing need to recognise the particular needs of both the individuals and the AEC. As at 30 June 2015, 28 individual flexibility arrangements were still active.

Senior executive remuneration

The Remuneration Tribunal determines the remuneration of the Electoral Commissioner under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.

Other statutory appointees are part of the principal executive officer structure under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973. The Electoral Commissioner determines the remuneration and conditions afforded to these appointees, within parameters set by the Remuneration Tribunal. Table 10 illustrates the salary ranges for each classification of statutory appointees and senior executive staff.

Table 10: Base salary bands for statutory appointees and senior executive staff effective 30 June 2015
Staff (number)a Remuneration band ($)b

1

300 000 – 350 000

6

180 000 – 299 999

5

150 000 – 179 999

8

130 000 – 149 999

0

0 – 129 999

  1. This data includes staff acting in positions at 30 June 2015.
  2. Bands do not represent total remuneration; they include salary for superannuation purposes but do not include other components of salary packaging such as cars and superannuation.
Table 11: AEC regular workforce profile as at 30 June 2015
AEC workforce segment Workforce statistic

Full time

80.3%

Linguistically diverse background

8.4%

Female

68.2%

Average age

47.3 years

45 years and over

60.2%

Staff turnover

15.3%

Average length of AEC service for ongoing staff

9.4 years

Performance management and pay

AEC performance management covers ongoing and non-ongoing employees employed for six months or more and forms part of the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–14. The Performance Management programme aligns individual employee performance with the achievement of the AEC’s business objectives. Managers and employees work together to ensure that:

  • the nature and standard of work requirements are clearly articulated
  • performance is reviewed regularly, in line with expectations
  • regular feedback is provided
  • individual development needs are agreed upon and actioned.

The People Services Branch provides assistance and advice to managers and staff on performance matters to ensure confidence in addressing performance issues. This advice is consistent with the AEC’s performance management policy and guidelines.

Salary progression in the AEC is subject to meeting the standards of the Performance Management programme. Following the completion of the performance planning cycle, eligible employees receive annual pay advancement within the salary range of their classification.

In 2014–15, performance bonuses were not offered to any employees.

AEC workforce

As at 30 June 2015, the AEC workforce consisted of:

  • a regular workforce of 827 ongoing and non-ongoing APS employees and seven Electoral Act employees
  • a casual workforce of 739 irregular or intermittent employees.

Tables provided at Appendix H provide a further breakdown of the AEC workforce.

AEC workforce statistics

Regular AEC workforce

The AEC’s regular workforce is spread across the AEC network of national, state, territory and divisional offices.

Figure 11: Staff by gender 2012–13 to 2014–15

Staff by gender 2012–13 to 2014–15

Figure 12: Ongoing and non-ongoing staff by age group as at 30 June 2015

Ongoing and non‑ongoing staff by age group as at 30 June 2015

The majority of AEC staff are female (68.2 per cent) and work at the APS 6 level, which includes most divisional office managers who act as returning officers for each electoral division a federal during election. Table 11 provides a snapshot of the AEC’s regular workforce profile.

A range of tables and figures provide specific workforce information within this section of the report. Percentages of male and female staff, from 2012–13 to 2014–15, are shown in Figure 11. The age profile of AEC employees is shown in Figure 12.

Table 12: Intermittent or irregular employees by classification
Classification Number of employees

APS 1

723

APS 2

3

APS 3

1

APS 4

2

APS 5

1

APS 6

8

EL 1

1

Total

739

APS = Australian Public Service; EL = Executive Level

Irregular or intermittent employees

At 30 June 2015, the AEC had a casual workforce of 739 irregular or intermittent staff. Employed mostly at the APS 1 level, casual employees work predominantly in divisional offices supporting fluctuating workloads throughout the electoral cycle. A breakdown of this workforce is provided in Table 12.

Indigenous employees

In 2014–15, 2.4 per cent of the regular AEC workforce self identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Indigenous election employees

The AEC is committed to creating a staffing profile at polling places that reflects the cultural diversity of the communities it serves throughout Australia.

It is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are provided polling assistance during federal elections by those from a similar cultural background. Since 2010, recruitment activities have successfully increased the amount of Indigenous election employees available to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In 2013, as a result of these efforts, the AEC almost doubled the number of Indigenous polling officials employed compared with 2010. The recruitment and development of Indigenous Voter Information Officers continued through 2014–15.

Figure 13 provides information on AEC staff who self identify as culturally and linguistically diverse, Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Disability reporting

Since 1994, Australian Government departments and agencies have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy.

As disability reporting to the Council of Australian Governments now occurs through the National Disability Strategy, within the State of the Service report, the specific requirement for disability reporting in individual Commonwealth agency annual reports has been discontinued. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au.

Figure 13: Staff by diversity 2011–12 to 2014–15

Staff by diversity 2011–12 to 2014–15
Table 13: National Disability Strategy measures in relation to staff
National Disability Strategy outcome AEC strategy AEC targets

Economic security

  • Improve employer awareness of benefits of diversity
  • Reduce barriers to employment
  • Improve employment, recruitment and retention
  • Implement inclusive workplace policies
  • Implement inclusive recruitment process
  • Support staff with disability in the workplace
  • Educate staff about the benefits of diversity
  • Require promotion on merit

Learning and skills

  • Reduce barriers and simplify access
  • Develop innovative learning strategies and support
  • Promote leadership development
  • Provide education and skills development opportunities
  • Provide leadership opportunities

The National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 established a ten-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, their families and carers. A high level two-yearly report now tracks progress against each of the outcome areas of the strategy and presents a picture of how people with disability are faring. This report is available at www.dss.gov.au. The AEC supports the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020 as it relates to staff with disabilities. The strategies it utilises are listed in Table 13.

The Social Inclusion Measurement and Reporting Strategy also includes reporting on disability matters.

Figure 14: Proportion of AEC staff with a disability 2011–12 to 2014–15

Proportion of AEC staff with a disability 2011–12 to 2014–15

Disability Advisory Committee and Inclusion Strategy

The AEC’s Disability Advisory Committee held its annual meeting in June 2015 at the offices of the Australian Human Rights Commission in Sydney. Committee members include representatives from peak disability organisations and members of the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand.

The AEC reported on progress against the AEC’s Disability Inclusion Strategy 2012–20, outlining a range of actions which aim to support the participation of people with disabilities in the electoral system and to ensure the AEC is an inclusive workplace that supports employees with a disability. Figure 14 illustrates the proportion of AEC staff with a disability.

Recruitment and employee retention

In 2014–15, with the AEC undertaking election preparations, the People Services Branch was focused on securing staff for an electoral event particularly in divisional offices. The recruitment of employees was undertaken in an efficient manner to ensure that the calibre of candidates remained high.

Recruiting employees

In early 2015 the AEC restructured its internal recruitment delivery to focus on the provision of greater support and administration services. This restructure resulted in the development of a team of account managers dedicated to specific business areas to provide efficient service delivery and greater candidate care and attention.

Job advertising

The AEC’s total advertised vacancies (ongoing and non-ongoing positions) grew from 36 in 2013–14 to 135 in 2014–15, as illustrated in Figure 15.

Figure 15: Number of vacancies advertised 2011–12 to 2014–15

Number of vacancies advertised 2011–12 to 2014–15
2014 graduates with their APSC award and members of the Executive Leadership Team
2014 graduates with their APSC award and members of the Executive Leadership Team. From left: Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers, Rachel Veitch, Kalinga Hulugalle, Rebecca Hansen, Priscilla Li and First Assistant Commissioner Capability Tim Courtney.

Graduate program

The 2014 Graduate program concluded with four employees successfully completing the program. These graduates were recognised by the Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) 2014 Graduate Development Program with an award for ‘Best Major Project Video Presentation’ for their video AEC Connect.

The AEC did not run a graduate program in 2015.

Retaining employees

The AEC’s retention rate for ongoing staff in 2014–15 was 95.5 per cent, representing a slight increase from 93.2 per cent in 2013–14. The AEC’s ongoing employee retention rate has been trending upwards over 90 per cent during the past decade despite year on year fluctuations.

Learning and development

AEC Learning

In 2014–15 the AEC continued to strengthen its approach to learning and development in line with the Learning and Development (L&D) Blueprint, commencing in July 2014 across four reforms:

  • Reform 1: the adoption of underlying key principles and a shared framework for learning design
  • Reform 2: a focus on performance coaching
  • Reform 3: development of certification processes and competency-based assessment
  • Reform 4: a redefined role for the Learning and Development Team in the People Services Branch.

The new Learning Management System ‘AEC Learning’ was launched in early 2015. AEC Learning represents a new approach to the way APS employees engage in learning and development in the AEC, and was the first step in implementing the L&D Blueprint. AEC Learning offers a range of self-paced and instructor led courses designed to enhance overall workforce capability and professionalism and will also be used to deploy bespoke learning programs currently under development.

The approach to learning by AEC employees has evolved significantly since the launch of the L&D Blueprint. Systems and processes have continued to be established or improved to ensure the development of nationally consistent, engaging and high quality learning programs that address the needs of the AEC and meet best practice now and into the future.

Election training development

In November 2014 the AEC undertook a full review of technical election training to better prepare employees for the operational demands of increasingly complex elections. This included a review of election training for both APS employees and polling officials. The findings were consolidated into the Election Training Review Report.

The key principles of Reform 1 underpinned the development of an Election Training Curriculum Framework and Election Training Curriculum and are aligned with future work in progress and to be developed under Reform 4. The work under Reform 1 has laid the foundations for best practice learning across Reforms 2, 3 and 4 of the L&D Blueprint.

Performance Coaching

A bespoke Performance Coaching Model was designed by AEC under Reform 2. The model is designed to create an environment where everyday conversations between employees link performance and learning to influence the AEC culture and to become a stronger learning organisation. As part of this model five ‘Creating Coaching Leaders’ programmes have been designed and will be developed throughout the second half of 2015. In continuing to develop and embed the value of high performing employees within AEC, carefully selected coaching champions are being used to support the socialisation and messaging of the model.

Trainer certification

The Trainer Certification Program will create a pool of internally accredited APS trainers in line with Reform 3 who will deliver endorsed and nationally consistent programs from the Election Training Curriculum to operational election employees.

A new role for L&D

Consistent with Reform 4 in the L&D Blueprint, the transition of the AEC’s Learning Management System to AEC Learning means that a new way of working is required for L&D in the AEC. A redefined role for the L&D area of the People Services Branch will establish a centralised hub for all training/learning programs. The new model will ensure the AEC embarks on a more coordinated approach to how learning and development across all programs is planned, designed, developed and measured.

Investing in our greatest asset

Workforce planning

In 2014–15 the AEC’s dynamic work environment continued to be influenced by the electoral cycle. Overseeing an ongoing workforce of approximately 800 employees, in addition to planning for a temporary election workforce of over 70 000 for a full federal election, requires carefully co-ordinated resource planning. For this reason, the AEC is currently designing and implementing a range of strategic initiatives to increase the sophistication of its workforce planning practices to ensure the delivery of organisational objectives now and into the future.

A crucial aspect of the workforce planning strategy is the introduction of more formal, systematic workforce planning improvements that complement the AEC’s broader electoral reform programme. This business-driven approach balances the development of the agency’s operational workforce planning practices with longer term strategic workforce planning. Since early 2015, the AEC has been focussed on preparations for the anticipated 2016 federal election, particularly the improvement of workforce planning. This includes:

  • establishing a planning framework that will strengthen agency workforce planning at the national, state/territory and divisional levels
  • reinforcing this framework by utilising a suite of workforce planning resources, such as templates and other materials
  • continuing to develop a comprehensive set of role profiles for permanent (ongoing and non-ongoing APS) and temporary (election) roles.

Employee benefits

AEC staff receive a range of non-salary benefits, consisting of leave arrangements, provision for separation and redundancy benefits, plus superannuation. This information is listed in the Notes to the Financial Statements section of this report.

State of the Service

The AEC’s State of the Service employee survey results for 2014–15 showed general improvement in employee engagement levels and widespread increases in employee satisfaction levels with the agency’s overall performance. In particular, there was improvement with employee satisfaction with immediate supervisors and with access to effective learning and development over the past 12 months.

The survey results also highlighted a number of areas requiring development including:

  • opportunities for career progression and talent development
  • improving internal communication
  • managing employee wellbeing.

Support of the Carer Recognition Act 2010

The AEC does not have any obligations with regard to the Carer Recognition Act 2010, as the agency is not defined in the Public Service Act 1999 as being responsible for the development, implementation, provision or evaluation of policies, programs or services directed to carers or the persons for who they care.

As a public service agency, the AEC does support employees with caring responsibilities as outlined in the Carer Recognition Act 2010. Employees are eligible for Paid Personal Leave (Carer’s), under Clause 69.7 of the AEC Enterprise Agreement 2011–14, to provide care or support to those they are responsible for in the case of personal illness, injury or unexpected emergency.

Work health and safety

The AEC recognises its responsibility to positively influence the work health and safety (WHS) of employees and to provide a safe environment for members of the public who enter AEC premises, including leased premises used as polling places during an electoral event.

The AEC’s ELT and the Operational Compliance Group are the senior executive forums with responsibility for oversight of the AEC’s work health and safety management system. The Health, Safety and Wellbeing Team in the People Services Branch maintain focus on prevention and wellbeing at work, early intervention and the management of rehabilitation and return-to-work programs, providing WHS support to managers and employees and reviewing the agency’s WHS performance reporting.

WHS obligations

The AEC complies with its obligations under both the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) and the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 (SRC Act) by ensuring there are appropriate systems that actively monitor, evaluate and maintain health, safety and welfare across all aspects of business. Table 14 provides a summary of ongoing AEC workplace health and safety outcomes.

Throughout 2014–15, the AEC maintained compliance with the WHS and SRC Acts by:

  • continuing to improve the WHS management system
  • introducing a new WHS due diligence framework to assist senior executives and employees to understand and meet their WHS legal obligations
  • introducing an enhanced WHS management structure, providing a greater level of consultation and representation through WHS committees, a strengthened health and safety representative network and revised work group structure
  • developing new election-related WHS strategies.
Table 14: Workplace health and safety summary
Information required under the WHS Act AEC Outcomes

Initiatives taken during the year to ensure the health, safety and welfare of workers

Continued development of the AEC WHS management system

Introduction of new WHS due diligence framework

Introduction of enhanced WHS management structure

Election-related WHS strategies

Health and safety outcomes achieved as a result of the initiatives

A reduction in the duration of incapacity through targeted rehabilitation strategies

An enhanced WHS management arrangement structure, providing a greater level of employee consultation and representation through an increased health and safety representative (HSR) network and revised work group structure

A framework to help senior executives understand and meet their WHS legal obligations

Notifiable incidents

A reduction from eight notifiable incidents in 2013–14, to two incidents in 2014–15 – consisting of one dangerous occurrence and one serious injury

Investigations conducted by the AEC

Two investigations were conducted, with no formal notices issued by the Regulator

WHS management system

A new WHS due diligence framework and manual were implemented in August 2014, within the AEC WHS management system. The framework has been developed to ensure that any staff involved in making decisions that affect a substantial part of the AEC business exercise due diligence. More than 400 employees have participated in face-to-face presentations in a range of AEC locations to support the implementation of the framework.

Significant work was also undertaken in strengthening the AEC’s WHS quarterly performance reporting, with a new reporting process commencing on 28 August 2014. The ELT and other senior managers receive quarterly performance reports using a mix of WHS lead and lag indicators that are cascaded upwards. Details include incidents, hazards and risks that can be eliminated or minimised to improve the health and safety environment.

A review of the following was also undertaken throughout 2014–15, to safeguard the representation of staff in managing WHS:

  • relevant AEC work groups
  • health and safety representatives
  • first aid officer networks.

Health and wellbeing programs

The AEC encourages its employees to pursue healthy lifestyles with a range of elective health and wellbeing programs:

  • the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)
  • annual influenza vaccinations
  • quit smoking programs
  • workstation assessments and provision of recommended ergonomic equipment
  • eyesight testing reimbursements
  • financial support for early intervention on health matters.

The EAP provides free, confidential support services that address a range of health and wellbeing issues. In 2014–15 the EAP utilisation rate for new AEC referrals was 3.7 per cent.

Workplace injuries and illnesses

In the period July 2014 to June 2015, 111 health and safety incidents were reported, comprising of 73 incidents, seven near hits and 31 hazards. This shows a significant decrease from the previous year, which was an election year featuring an increased workload and increased workforce. For the period July 2013 to June 2014, 239 work health and safety events were reported, comprising 176 incidents, 50 near hits and 13 hazards.

The top three mechanisms of incident reported in the AEC during 2014–15 were body stressing, mental stress and falls, trips and slips.

Notifiable incidents

There were two notifiable incidents during 2014–15, including one serious injury and one dangerous occurrence. Both incidents were reported to Comcare, investigated internally and remedial measures put in place.

Investigations conducted during the year

In 2014–15, there were no Comcare investigations undertaken, and no improvement notices issued to the AEC. One liaison inspection was undertaken and a report provided to the AEC with recommendations being currently implemented. No formal notices were issued by the Regulator.

Health safety and welfare outcomes

Claims management

The AEC’s management of claims consisted of:

  • 14 new cases for compensation (of which nine were accepted by Comcare)
  • 30 continuing cases for compensation
  • 19 new cases of non-compensation injuries
  • nine continuing cases of non-compensable injuries.

Table 15 shows the number of new cases the AEC managed for compensation and non-compensable injuries over the past three years, reported in the year in which management commenced.

People Services Branch strategically assessed and managed both compensable and non-compensable claims for Comcare, the incident management regulator. These responsibilities include the review of all claim information, providing quality assurance for AEC internal processes and ensuring prompt action or intervention to support injured employees in their return to pre-injury duties/hours. The branch also supported injured employees in achieving positive outcomes and improving the performance of the AEC workers’ compensation premium.

Table 15: New claims for compensable and non-compensable injuries
Case management type 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15

Compensable

9

17

14

Non-compensable

17

32

19

Total

26

49

33

Table 16: Premium rate compared to overall Comcare scheme 2012–13 to 2014–15
Premium rate (excluding GST) 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15

AEC premium

0.93%

1.11%

1.84%

Overall scheme premium

1.61%

1.65%

1.93%

The AEC’s workers’ compensation premium payable in 2014–15 from the previous year, due to a bonus payment. Comcare is predicting a continued reduction in the AEC’s premium as a result of the positive outcomes seen in the reduction in claim costs. A primary cost driver in the premium estimate is the amount of time off work and/or repeated periods of time off work taken by an employee, which has been noticeably reduced in the past 12 months.

Worker’s compensation premium

The AEC workers’ compensation premium for 2014–15 under the Comcare scheme was 1.84 per cent of wages and salary.

Table 16 details the AEC’s premium rates, compared to the overall Comcare scheme over the past three years.

The number of AEC worker compensation claims received for 2014–15 was the same as that for 2013–14. In the 2014–15 period, a new strategy for the management of compensation claims was developed, focusing on active intervention, investigation and resolution of cases. Particular focus was given to mental health cases.

The indicative costs for total AEC premiums for 2015–16 show a decrease of 14 per cent, compared to premium costs for 2014–15.

Health and safety representative elections

The National Work Health and Safety Committee (NWHSC) meets every quarter, with out-of-session meetings held as required to address specific work, health and safety matters. The purpose of the NWHSC is to provide a consultative forum that can effectively address, at a national and strategic level, the health and safety matters arising in the AEC or those escalated by state/territory work health and safety committees, with particular reference to the requirements of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 and the Work Health and Safety Regulations 2011. Work health and safety committees also meet quarterly in all states and territories and minutes are available to staff via the AEC intranet.

The AEC conducts national elections for Health and Safety Representatives (HSRs) and Deputy HSRs, who are elected for a term of three years. Elections are conducted electronically, following the AEC’s HSRs Procedure for Elections, which sets out the requirements and process for electing HSRs and the responsibilities of various stakeholders in this process.