The Clerk of the Senate is appointed by the President of the Senate under subsection 58(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act, after consulting senators. Staff are engaged under section 22 of that Act.
Additional support was provided to the department through secondment arrangements with other Commonwealth and state and territory government agencies, including the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and the Office of the Legislative Assembly (ACT), as well as by graduates participating in the Parliament of Australia Graduate Program.
Figure 19 shows that the average full-time equivalent staffing level for 2020–21 was 168, an increase from 156 in 2019–20. This reflects the department's increased support of Senate and Joint Parliamentary Committees over the period.
Two employees identified as First Australians, the same number as in the previous reporting period.
Further staffing statistics are provided in Appendix 2.
Figure 19 – Full-time equivalent staff numbers, 2017–18 to 2020–21
The department’s learning and development framework supports staff to develop and maintain relevant skills and knowledge. Participation in learning activities is actively promoted and encouraged. In 2020–21, twenty-nine learning activities were offered.
The department offered four internal training sessions, with a focus on parliamentary skills and knowledge. Continued development of staff in the area of parliamentary procedure and practice remains a priority for the department, to support our core work providing accurate and timely procedural advice.
Twenty-five learning activities focused on skills for the workplace, leadership, health and well-being and role-specific learning (e.g. subject matter conferences).
Financial assistance or paid leave (or both) is also available under the department’s Studybank scheme, to assist ongoing staff to undertake tertiary studies relevant to the department’s objectives. In 2020–21, 16 employees accessed Studybank.
The department participated in the 2020 Australian Public Service Employee Census, administered by the Australian Public Service Commission, in October 2020. The department's results were posted publicly on the Australian Parliament House website.
The remuneration of the Clerk of the Senate, who is the holder of a statutory office, is determined by the President of the Senate after consultation with the Remuneration Tribunal.
The department’s five Senior Executive Service (SES) employees are covered by determinations made under subsection 24(1) of the Parliamentary Service Act.
The department’s 186 non-SES employees (including casual or sessional employees and those on long-term leave) are covered by the Department of the Senate Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020.
On 15 May 2020, the Clerk made the Department of the Senate Non-SES Employees Remuneration Determination 2020, to supplement the Department of the Senate Enterprise Agreement 2017–2020 with salary increases commencing May 2021. This followed a 92 per cent 'yes' vote by eligible employees for this determination in lieu of bargaining for a new enterprise agreement.
Three employees had an Individual Flexibility Arrangement with the Clerk in accordance with clause 7 of the Enterprise Agreement.
Under these various workplace arrangements, staff have access to a range of entitlements, including leave, study assistance, a workplace support allowance, salary packaging, guaranteed minimum superannuation payments and other allowances. Employees can also use other services offered at Parliament House, including the sporting facilities and the Parliamentary Library. None of the department’s workplace arrangements provide for performance pay.
All employees work at Parliament House, Canberra.
In response to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clerk made the Department of the Senate Non-SES Employees COVID-19 Determination 2021 and the Department of the Senate SES Employees COVID-19 Determination 2021. These determinations continue greater flexibility for staff accessing existing leave entitlements should they need additional leave as a result of the pandemic, and provide for paid discretionary leave for casual or sessional employees. These determinations reflect similar arrangements made in relation to the Australian Public Service.
On 18 June 2021, the department advised staff that they could access up to a total of two hours of paid discretionary leave to travel to and receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Staff who had already taken paid leave for this purpose are eligible to have up to two hours of that leave re-credited. 13 staff accessed this leave in 2020–21.
Work health and safety
The department promotes and protects the physical and mental health and well-being of its workers and others in the workplace by providing a safe, supportive and inclusive environment and meeting its duties and obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The department's Health and Safety Committee met four times during 2020–21.
The department notifies work health and safety incidents to Comcare as required by the Work Health and Safety Act. There were no notifiable incidents in 2020–21, nor was the department subject to any investigation or compliance or enforcement measure under that Act.
In response to ongoing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and precautions, the department updated its work health and safety, well-being and working from home policies and advices to allow greater flexibility and assurance for staff to safely work from home. Specific COVID-Safe advice and support is also provided to staff who undertake official travel. The department, through the Usher of the Black Rod, worked closely with Health Officials to ensure the department continues to operate on a COVID-Safe footing, especially during estimates and sitting periods. Detailed COVID-Safe plans have been made for major undertakings and are updated as needed when conditions change.