Appendix 2: Explanatory notes
Last updated: 26 Sep 2017
This page is: current
Agencies covered by the PS Act can be broadly placed into 4 categories, as follows:
- Departments (Category A);
- Statutory Agencies with all staff employed under the PS Act (Category B);
- Statutory Agencies with dual staffing powers (Category C); and
- Executive Agencies (Category D).
A further eight agencies are under Category E—bodies with staff employed under the PS Act that operate with some degree of independence. However, these are not separate APS agencies as defined in the PS Act and for the purposes of this Bulletin, are reported under their relevant (category A) departments. For more details on how agencies are categorised, see www.apsc.gov.au/publications-and-media/current-publications/australian-public-service-agencies. Some agencies due to their small size are not separately identified in the tables. A list of these agencies is in Appendix 4.
Calculation of yearly APS change
From time to time, the number of employees covered by the PS Act is affected by changes in administrative arrangements when agencies move into or out of coverage of the PS Act. It is necessary to adjust for changes in coverage when comparing the data with previous years’ data and calculating changes for the APS. Refer to Appendix 3 for the number of employees who moved into or out of coverage of the PS Act over the past 15 years and for the number of employees affected by machinery of government changes during 2016–17.
The classifications used in this Bulletin are those classifications listed in the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 (the Classification Rules).
Data in this Bulletin generally refers to the base (substantive) classification, except those tables where temporary assignment or paid classification is used.
SES includes Senior Executive (SES) Bands 1, 2 and 3. It also includes employees grouped with the equivalent SES Bands under the Classification Rules.
EL classifications include Executive Levels 1 and 2. It also includes employees grouped with the equivalent Executive Levels under the Classification Rules such as Medical Officers.
APS classifications include employees at the APS 1 to 6 levels. It also includes employees grouped with the equivalent APS levels under the Classification Rules.
Trainee includes cadets, trainees and apprentices (but not Graduate APS, even though this is a training classification under the Classification Rules).
Graduate refers only to those employees in a specific graduate program.
An engagement refers to the engagement or re-engagement of an employee under s. 22 of the PS Act. Employees of agencies moving into coverage of the PS Act under s. 72 are counted as engagements.
Is calculated as the number of separations from an agency (i.e. employees leaving the APS) plus the number of transfers and promotions out of the agency during the reporting period, divided by the average number of employees at the beginning and end of the reporting period. It refers to ongoing employees only.
The full-time and part-time employment status categories used in this publication refer to the number of hours worked. Full-time employees are defined as those who ordinarily work 35 hours or more per week. Employees working fewer than 35 hours per week are defined as working part-time. This definition is based on that used by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in their Australian Labour Market Statistics publication (catalogue no. 6105.0).
Highest educational qualification
Data reported in this Bulletin is the highest qualification that the employee has reported to their agency. The full list of qualification categories is shown in the APS Employment Database Manual (Version 4.2), available on the Commission’s website at
Length of service
Length of service is based on an employee’s combined periods of service. Where possible, an individual’s separate periods of services have been linked by matching date of birth, sex, first name (first four letters) and surname. The length of these periods of service is combined. For example, an individual who had five years of service, left the APS for two years and then returned for seven years would have a total length of service of 12 years. Previously, this individual would have been recorded as having seven years of service if they had changed Australian Government Staff Number (AGSN). Using this method it is possible to determine an individual’s prior service in the APS.
Non-ongoing service is included in this calculation only where the service is on APSED; the collection of data for non-ongoing employees on APSED commenced in July 1999. Service in an agency is only included in the period that the agency was covered under the PS Act or the Public Service Act 1922 (the PS Act 1922). When an agency moves out of coverage of either of these Acts, accumulation of service ceases until the individual re-joins the APS. See Appendix 3 for PS Act coverage changes.
Maternity related leave should not be confused with leave under the provisions of the Maternity Leave (Commonwealth Employees) Act 1973. APSED measures the amount of time spent away from work due to having a baby. It records the date the employee commences leave and the date the employee returns to work, irrespective of the type of leave taken during this period. For further details see the APS Employment Database Manual (Version 4.2) available on the Commission’s website at www.apsc.gov.au/about-the-apsc/commission-services/apsed.
Is calculated as the number of transfers and promotions (s. 26 of the PS Act) between APS agencies over a financial year, divided by the average number of ongoing employees over that period.
In the absence of alternative measures, the concept ‘NESB’, representing people from a non-English speaking background, is used with APSED. This captures information about first language spoken, place of birth and parents’ language. NESB 1 refers to people born overseas who arrived in Australia after the age of five and whose first language was not English. NESB 2 refers to children of migrants including:
- those who were born overseas and arrived in Australia when they were aged five or younger but did not speak English as a first language;
- those who were Australian born but did not speak English as a first language and had at least one parent who did not speak English as a first language;
- those who spoke English as a first language and had neither parent speaking English as a first language.
Number of agencies worked in
Number of agencies worked in is based on an employee’s combined periods of service. Movements due to machinery of government changes are not counted.
‘Ongoing’ refers to the employment of an APS employee as mentioned in s. 22(2)(a) of the PS Act. The employee is referred to as an ongoing employee. ‘Non-ongoing’ is a generic term which refers to the engagement of APS employees for either a specified term or for the duration of a specified task or for duties that are irregular or intermittent as mentioned in ss. 22(2)(b) and (c) of the PS Act. A person engaged on a non-ongoing basis is referred to as a non-ongoing employee.
Employees who are inoperative are those on mandatory or discretionary leave without pay or compensation leave. Maternity leave is not included. For further details see the APS Employment Database Manual (Version 4.2) available on the Commission’s website at www.apsc.gov.au/about-the-apsc/commission-services/apsed.
Promotions are ongoing assignments to a higher APS classification level, either within or between APS agencies. Promotions of ongoing employees do not include advancements within a broadband to a higher classification level.
Is calculated as the number of individual ongoing employees who are employed both at the beginning and end of the reporting period, divided by the number of employees at the beginning of the reporting period.
A separation occurs when an employee ceases to be employed under the PS Act. It does not refer to employees moving from one APS agency to another. The terms used in this Bulletin are:
- Age retirement (s. 30 of the PS Act) , which includes:
- resignations at age 55 and above
- Retrenchment, which includes:
- employee excess to the requirements of the agency (s. 29(3)(a))
- SES incentive to retire (s. 37)
- Physical or mental incapacity (s. 29(3)(d))
- Terminations of employment, which includes:
- inappropriately qualified (s. 29(3)(b))
- underperformance (s. 29(3)(c))
- non-completion of entry level training (s. 29(3)(e))
- breach of engagement condition (s. 29(3)(f))
- misconduct (s. 29(3)(g))
- Compulsory move to non-APS agency by determination made by the Public Service Commissioner under s. 72(1)(b)
For the purpose of the Bulletin reporting, transfers are ongoing movements between agencies, either at the same classification level or to a lower classification level.