Work health and safety within Finance
Finance meets its obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (WHS Act) by maintaining a safe and healthy work environment, promoting strategies to enhance personal wellbeing, and upholding high standards of ethical behaviour as set out in the APS Values, APS Employment Principles and the APS Code of Conduct.
Finance is committed to taking all reasonably practicable steps to eliminate or minimise risks to the health, safety and welfare of our staff, contractors and visitors. We have taken a number of steps to ensure our workplace remains a safe one for employees to access resources and maintain important professional and social connections whether working from home or in the office.
As the challenges of responding to COVID-19 continued throughout 2020–21, a number of specific WHS initiatives were implemented to support the physical and mental health and wellbeing of staff, including:
- investing in a range of programs, including presentations on resilience and good mental health in the workplace, ‘bootcamp for the brain’ sessions, manager assistance programs, working from home wellbeing checks, and virtual and face-to-face workstation assessments
- supporting employees with the transition back to the workplace through flexible work options
- maintaining enhanced hygiene protocols, including by providing hand sanitiser and alcohol wipes, and enforcing social distancing in communal spaces such as meeting rooms and kitchens
- promoting and encouraging employees to access the confidential counselling services of our employee assistance program to support positive mental health.
Strengthening our WHS management systems remains a key focus. A number of initiatives were undertaken throughout 2020–21 to support this, including:
- consulting on a revised workgroup structure to better support more productive and local communications and consultation with staff representatives on WHS matters
- reviewing and updating the terms of reference for the WHS Committee, including revised membership to reflect the new workgroup structure.
In accordance with the WHS Act, the WHS Committee met quarterly throughout 2020–21. Finance currently has 13 health and safety representatives, seven mental health advisers and 53 first aid officers to assist the Department to maintain a safe and healthy work environment.
In April 2021, to help prevent the spread of colds and flu, the influenza vaccination program was made available to all staff. Finance also remains an Accredited Breastfeeding Friendly Workplace, and received Healthier Work Recognition—Silver Status, from the ACT Government.
Finance continues to provide professional face-to-face counselling and support for employees through our employee assistance program. This service offers free and confidential counselling independent of Finance and is available to Finance staff and their immediate family members. The counselling service is available to help address a range of issues including family life, daily life, emotional wellbeing, work-life balance, nutrition and management practices.
Finance’s ongoing investment in staff wellbeing also included early intervention support for employees experiencing an illness or injury that may impact their work, and partial reimbursement of the cost of prescription glasses for screen-based work.
Work health and safety initiatives
Finance and employing parliamentarians share duties under the WHS Act for health and safety in parliamentarians’ workplaces. This includes duties to all staff employed under the Members of Parliament (Staff) Act 1984 (MOP(S) Act). In 2020–21, Finance:
- provided WHS advice and supports relating to COVID-19 and the workplace, including expanded working-from-home arrangements and responding to COVID-related incidents
- established the Parliamentary Support Line (1800 APH SPT) through which MOP(S) Act employees can receive initial information, trauma-informed counselling and referrals in response to sexual violence, assault, sexual harassment or other serious incidents in the workplace
- delivered, in partnership with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, a pilot education program to promote safe and respectful workplaces
- provided a range of health and wellbeing services, including confidential counselling and manager support, through the employee assistance program and expanded the human resources team to support MOP(S) Act employees with human resources issues including bullying and harassment
- administered a WHS site officer program to support hazard and incident notification and access to first aid in parliamentarians’ workplaces, emergency management systems and workstation assessments, including annual training for nominated WHS roles: emergency officers, WHS site officers and first aid officers.
Investigations and notices
WHS Investigations and notices under Part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011
No investigations under Part 10 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 were conducted in relation to incidents involving MOP(S) Act employees during 2020–21.
The Comcare premium
Finance's 2020–21 workers compensation premium accounted for 0.46 per cent of its payroll (for both Finance and MOP(S) Act employees), a decrease from 0.55 per cent of its payroll in the previous year.