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Our workforce

The AEC has a regular workforce and engages a temporary election workforce for election events.

We develop our people through training and development programs, and annual performance management promotes and drives high performance.

At 30 June 2020 the AEC had a regular workforce of 711 APS employees. This included:

  • 678 ongoing APS employees
  • 33 non-ongoing APS employees

A breakdown of the AEC workforce is in Table 2 (below). The AEC also has:

  • a casual APS workforce of 1,110
  • nine statutory office holders
  • 14 APS employees who identify as Indigenous Australians (11 ongoing and three non-ongoing)

Employment type and classification

Table 2: AEC APS workforce by employment type and classification (excluding statutory office holders), 30 June 2020

Ongoing

Non-Ongoing

SE2

2

-

SE1

7

-

EL2

41

-

EL1

111

4

APS6

180

6

APS5

91

6

APS4

75

8

APS3

94

5

APS2

77

4

APS1

-

-

TOTAL

678

33

Detailed workforce statistics, including statutory appointments are in appendix H.

Terms and conditions of employment

The AEC’s regular workforce is engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 and the temporary election workforce under section 35(1) of the Electoral Act.

Employees engaged under the Public Service Act 1999 have their terms and conditions of employment governed by the AEC’s Enterprise Agreement 2016–2019 published on the AEC website. Under the enterprise agreement, our people receive a range of non-salary benefits, including paid personal (carers) leave. This supports employees with caring responsibilities as outlined in the Carer Recognition Act 2010.

With agreement from our employees, remuneration adjustments can occur through a section 24(1) Determination made under the Public Service Act, which was signed by the Electoral Commissioner on 30 November 2019.

The Electoral Commissioner may agree to individual flexibility arrangements with employees, which can vary the effect of the terms of the enterprise agreement. The AEC had 20 employees engaged under individual flexibility arrangements at 30 June 2020 (see Appendix H: Workforce statistics, Table 32).

The AEC engages a temporary election workforce for election events. These employees are engaged under section 35(1) of the Electoral Act and their terms and conditions of employment are outlined in a Collective Determination.

Performance management and performance pay

The enterprise agreement requires all employees engaged under section 22(2) of the Public Service Act to participate in the AEC’s Performance Management Program. Eligible employees who meet the requirements receive salary advancement. The AEC does not provide performance bonuses. A list of salary ranges by classification is in Appendix H: Workforce statistics, Table 33.

Remuneration

The AEC is required to disclose the remuneration, policy, practices and governance arrangements of executive officials, including:

  • key management personnel
  • senior executives
  • other highly paid employees, whose total remuneration exceeds the threshold amount of $225,000 for the reporting period

The terms and conditions of the AEC’s statutory office holders are determined by the Remuneration Tribunal and the Governor-General under the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973. This includes remuneration of the Chairperson of the Commission, Electoral Commissioner,
Deputy Electoral Commissioner, and Australian Electoral Officers.

Remuneration for the AEC’s senior executive employees is established through individual determinations made under section 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 with regard to:

  • the APS Executive Remuneration Management Policy
  • the Australian Government Workplace Bargaining Policy 2018
  • an assessment of the relativities with other APS agencies as indicated in the annual APS remuneration Report produced by the APSC and released in June each year

Salary levels for SES employees are generally set at rates within a salary band applicable to each SES classification. A list of salary ranges by classification is in Appendix H: Workforce statistics, Table 33.

Details of executive remuneration are published on both the AEC and Remuneration Tribunal websites, and at Appendix H: Workforce statistics, Tables 35 and 36.

Disability reporting mechanisms

The AEC provides a variety of education and communication initiatives to meet the needs of Australians with disability, including Easy English Guides. These initiatives are reported through the National Disability Strategy 2010–2020, the State of the Service report and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at www.apsc.gov.au

The National Disability Strategy 2010– 2020 is Australia’s overarching framework for disability reform. It acts to ensure the principles underpinning the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into Australia’s policies and programs that affect people with disability, their families and carers.

All levels of government will continue to be held accountable for implementing the strategy through progress reporting to the Council of Australian Governments every second year. Progress reports can be found at dss.gov.au

Workforce planning

To improve workforce planning the AEC increasingly uses business intelligence and data to support decision-making and service delivery. During 2019–20 the AEC established better evidence-based processes to successfully source, train and pay the appropriate number of capable temporary employees—at the right time—to deliver successful elections. Data and metrics were taken from:

  • the operation of our staffing help desk
  • HR systems
  • temporary election workforce surveys

Underpinned by this data, a series of work packages—which work towards applying consistent principles across our business-as-usual and temporary election workforce—will be implemented through to the next federal election.

In addition, the AEC chairs the Electoral Council of Australia and New Zealand Temporary Election Staff Working Group, which explores opportunities for greater cooperation and harmonisation for temporary election staff employed across federal, state and local elections in Australia.

Secondments to support APS COVID-19 response

The AEC responded to the Australian Public Service Commission’s request for a rapid deployment of employees to other APS agencies, particularly Services Australia. Individuals in the AEC’s Canberra ‘surge’ staffing pools were contacted in late March to supplement the Services Australia’s workforce and support the Government’s critical work. The AEC nominated 255
employees for secondment—32 per cent of our workforce—and helped lead the mobilisation effort by creating an employee help desk to support secondees.

Work health and safety

The AEC takes a proactive approach to workplace health, safety and rehabilitation. As part of its compliance obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988 and the Guidelines for Rehabilitation Authorities 2019, the AEC has the following systems to monitor, evaluate and maintain health, safety and welfare:

  • our Rehabilitation Management System, which meets Comcare’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation Authorities 2012 under section 41 of the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988
  • our work health and safety management system—AECsafety—which was further refined during the year
  • the AEC risk management framework

Initiatives to monitor, evaluate and maintain health, safety and welfare across the agency include:

  • engaging workplace rehabilitation providers to help injured or ill employees to make a safe return to work
  • promoting:
    • free annual influenza vaccinations for staff
    • the AEC’s early intervention program which supports employees injured at work, and helps reduce injury-related absenteeism
    • the AEC’s employee assistance program
    • ergonomic workstation assessments to prevent injury and to ensure preexisting injuries are not aggravated

In 2019–20 the AEC incident management team increased its regular meetings to adjust to COVID-19. It also undertook ongoing external environment reviews to ensure preventative work health and safety controls were reflected in the AEC’s COVID risk assessment.

Australian Public Service Commission guidance was implemented to ensure a COVID-safe transition for employees coming back to the workplace. The AEC also aligned its response to the
pandemic with decisions made by the Government for a COVID-safe Australia.

Updated and timely communication informed and supported employees through the pandemic. Wellbeing initiatives such as mental health webinars, our Employee Assistance Program and external support services, were also implemented and made available to employees.

Health and safety incident and claim management

In 2019–20, 148 health and safety incidents were reported, compared with 594 the previous year. This reduction is attributed to:

  • the engagement of a large temporary election workforce in 2018–19 for the 2019 federal election and by-elections
  • work from home arrangements due to COVID-19

Seven incidents were reported to Comcare for investigation, and no liaison inspections were conducted.

Injury and illness claims decreased in 2019–20. At 30 June 2020 there were:

  • 28 continuing cases for compensation
  • six new cases for compensation submitted by APS employees who were employed under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918. Of these:
    – four claims were accepted by Comcare
    – one claim was rejected by Comcare, and re-submitted for reconsideration, and subsequently rejected
    – one claim is still pending
    – no claims were withdrawn

The AEC did not conduct any injury or illness investigations, and there were no notifiable incidents for serious injury or illness, or for a dangerous occurrence (see table below).

Table 3: New claims for compensable and non-compensable injuries

Case management type

2015–16

2016–17

2017–18

2018–19

2019–20

Compensable

14

23

12

14

32

Non-compensable

41

42

41

58

48

Early intervention

NA

NA

2

14

3

Total

55

65

55

86

83

Developing our people

The National Training and Education Unit leads and coordinates AEC training and development to build:

  • critical operational and leadership capabilities that underpin election readiness
  • a culture of professionalism, compliance, and electoral integrity

In 2019–20 the AEC Learning and Professional Development Strategy 2020–2025 was launched. This guides the AEC's approach and future investment in increasing the AEC workforce’s capability and agility, and contains five priorities:

  • developing a vibrant learning culture
  • clarifying accountabilities and responsibilities
  • ensuring a capable temporary election workforce
  • establishing a learning infrastructure
  • building organisational capability

In addition to eLearning courses on core APS skills and legislative requirements, training through the Election Planning and Learning Program began in April 2020 to help state and divisional staff develop their election operation plans.

In 2019–20 a significant focus was designing and developing the National Induction Program and the Senior Leaders Program for delivery in 2020–21.

The National Induction program:

  • sets the foundations of the AEC's working environment
  • articulates the agency’s values
  • sets clear expectations about the roles and responsibilities of staff and the agency

The Senior Leaders Program helps executive level and senior executive staff to build leadership capability, skills and knowledge in our dynamic environment of change and modernisation.