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Management and development of human resources

Training and development

OPC sees training and development as contributing significantly to the consolidation and improvement of its capability. OPC undertakes its training and development activities in order to:

  • make the best use of human resources available to OPC; and
  • enhance career and development opportunities for all staff.

Staff development arrangements

OPC’s Staff Development Plan establishes the following institutional arrangements for OPC’s staff development activities:

· a senior drafter is designated as the Director of Drafter Training;

· the Director of Drafter Training and the General Managers have joint responsibility for staff development matters generally (including monitoring expenditure on staff development activities);

· staff development decisions in relation to particular staff are, by and large, made by supervisors jointly with either the Director of Drafter Training (for staff who are drafters) or the General Managers for other staff;

· staff development decisions are made by reference to the development needs of staff, as identified in the Individual Development Plans that are settled as part of the Performance Management Programs;

· the Director of Drafter Training and the General Managers have the function of reviewing the Staff Development Plan to ensure it is up to date and properly focused on OPC’s needs; and

· the Director of Drafter Training also ensures that drafters receive a program of internally provided training on a regular basis.

These arrangements have the advantages of:

· involving supervisors in all aspects of staff development decision-making (including resource implications);

· linking staff development closely to the Performance Management Programs;

· ensuring a high level of consistency in staff development decisions;

· ensuring there is proper equity and balance in the resources devoted to training staff who are drafters and to other staff; and

· ensuring that the program of internally provided training for drafters is properly focused, well-planned and regular.

Program of internally provided training for drafters

In consultation with drafters in OPC, a program of internally provided training for drafters has been developed. The program involves a mix of presentations by drafters within OPC and external presenters (with an emphasis on the areas of law that hold special interest and importance for drafters).

During the year, the program of presentations by drafters within OPC dealt with:

· implied freedom of political communication;

· constitutional aspects of taxation;

· application of legislation to corporations, trusts and partnerships;

· automated decision-making; and

· drafting values.

In addition, an external presenter, academic Bruce Whittaker, gave a presentation to drafters on personal properties securities law. Bruce is one of Australia’s leading experts on this area of law. The presentation also drew on contributions from the Attorney-General’s Department, including the Australian Financial Security Authority.

The discussion group focusing on the development needs of newer drafters continued to be run approximately each month.

Senior drafters also had the benefit of the training offered to all managers and supervisors within OPC by the NeuroLeadership Institute, in skills and techniques for transforming feedback conversations.

Conferences and seminars

OPC drafters participated in a range of external conferences and seminars organised by the Australian Government Solicitor, leading academic institutions and law firms.

The Australian Government Legal Service (AGLS) was formally established this year. Meredith Leigh is an inaugural Board member for the AGLS, and one of the two Board members sponsoring the AGLS Professional Development Committee. OPC has assisted in the work of the AGLS Professional Development Committee by presenting at the Foundational Government Lawyer Training Program.

Staff undertaking higher studies under Studies Assistance Scheme

During the year, five OPC staff members accessed OPC’s Studies Assistance Scheme to pursue higher studies relevant to their current work and career development.

IT training

OPC’s legislative drafting capability relies heavily on our staff’s IT proficiency to undertake research and to prepare Bills and legislative instruments.

During the year, OPC provided training in IT, either in person or online. Most of that training was provided in-house, enabling it to be both cost-effective and responsive to the particular needs of staff.

The feedback provided by staff attending the various training sessions was resoundingly positive in terms of the content and presentation of the training and its relevance to current work.

OPC’s professional IT staff also undertook external training during the year to ensure that their skills were maintained.

Productivity gains

Productivity gains have been achieved through:

· the review and continued updating of finance and other Corporate Services processes;

· improved liaison with key stakeholders;

· continued improvements through the application of IT; and

· cooperative agency procurement of goods and services.

Staffing statistics

The staffing statistics for OPC at 30 June 2020 are in Appendix B.

All staff employed by OPC (except one) are located in the ACT. One staff member works remotely from New South Wales.

Coverage of workplace agreements

All non-SES employees are covered by an Enterprise Agreement which commenced on 12 May 2016, and a Determination made under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 which commenced on 12 May 2019 for a period of three years. This was affected by a determination by the Prime Minister under that Act which delayed any pay rises by 6 months.

SES employees are covered by an Enterprise Agreement which commenced on 18 October 2016 for a period of three years and a Determination made under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999 which commenced on 18 October 2019. However, in accordance with Government policy, another determination was made fixing SES remuneration at the amount that was payable to each SES employee on 25 March 2020.

Salary ranges

The full range of salaries available under OPC’s Enterprise Agreements and Determinations as at 30 June 2020 is set out in Appendix B.

Non-salary benefits for APS employees

SES staff are provided with a fully maintained, private-plated vehicle, or a cash benefit in lieu of a vehicle, and are provided with free on-site parking.

Staff occupying designated positions closely involved with the legislation process receive a telephone allowance to cover the cost of any work-related calls. SES staff have had an amount included in their salary to replace this entitlement, on condition that they maintain a home phone and allow the number to be circulated to any person who may need it in the course of business.

To support the work of OPC, staff obtain remote access to OPC’s IT system. Recognising that staff need to have internet access to use remote access, OPC pays an allowance to remote access users.

Other non-salary benefits available to staff were:

· employer-sponsored superannuation;

· the cost of prescription spectacles or other eyewear up to the value of $568 every 2 years or each time a new prescription is issued if that happens sooner; and

· dependent care costs arising from working arrangements that are required in specific circumstances.

Performance pay

There is no provision for performance pay for APS employees in OPC’s Performance Management Programs.

However, OPC has comprehensive Performance Management Programs covering all staff, under which salary advancement is dependent on staff being rated as at least “fully effective”. An experience loading for SES staff is also dependent on those SES staff being rated as at least “fully effective”.

Individual Flexibility Arrangements

OPC has used Individual Flexibility Arrangements since at least 2014 to provide benefits to both the Office and individual employees. None of the Individual Flexibility Arrangements provided by OPC are dependent on performance. During 2020-21, 6 SES and 10 non-SES received supplementary experience loadings under Individual Flexibility Arrangements.

Staff changes and recruitment

During 2020-2021 the following staff were recruited/promoted:

· three Senior Assistant Parliamentary Counsel SES Band 1;

· five Assistant Parliamentary Counsel Grade 1;

· two Assistant Parliamentary Counsel Grade 3;

· two Assistant Parliamentary Counsel Grade 2;

· five Assistant Publishing Officers;

· one Publishing Officer;

· one Director, Technology;

· one Assistant Director, Technology;

· one Chief Finance Officer;

· two Senior Human Resource Advisors;

· one Finance/Human Resource Officer; and

· one Executive Officer.

Workforce planning

OPC’s workforce planning document is an integral part of our broader planning processes and ensures that OPC has a workforce capable of delivering on the objectives of OPC now and into the future.

OPC’s strategies for ensuring that it has sufficient human resources to maintain its legislative drafting capability include:

· providing support for the Director of Drafter Training to coordinate the training and development of drafters;

· giving assistant drafters intensive on-the-job training in legislative drafting as well as formal training in other relevant areas (such as IT);

· supporting each assistant drafter appointed to act as a senior drafter by providing access to another senior drafter as a mentor;

· recognising that the contribution individual drafters make to achieving OPC’s outcome increases as their level of drafting experience increases; and

· giving staff access to flexible working hours if they do not have access to flex-time.

Effect of workplace agreements on staff retention

Retention of drafting staff has been aided by:

· providing more flexible leave arrangements, including annual leave and personal/carer’s leave;

· recognising the value of experienced senior drafters by providing for payment of an experience loading;

· allowing some time off in recognition of the excess hours often worked by drafters (without providing a full flex-time scheme for drafters);

· providing flexible working hours arrangements that allow drafters to better manage their work and personal commitments; and

· permitting part-time arrangements for drafters (and other staff) to allow them to balance their work and personal commitments (these arrangements are available not only to staff with caring responsibilities, but also to any staff member whose wish to work part-time can be accommodated within operational requirements).