APS News December 2016: fostering a flexible, efficient, high performing APS

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Welcome to the final APS eNewsletter for 2016.

2016 has proven to be challenging, stimulating and eventful for the APS. The APS has continued to give the Government and the community excellent service. The challenges of a long caretaker period again affirmed the professionalism and impartiality of the APS. As the festive season arrives, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

Managing integrity risks in the workplace: A toolkit

Some threats to integrity are criminal, but most are not. They can come from mistakes, poor judgement or not understanding what it means to be a professional public servant.   Show more

To help APS managers identify and deal with integrity risks in their workplaces, the APSC has published a new toolkit: Managing integrity risks in the workplace.

The toolkit provides managers with a set of actions they can take to help their agency mitigate risk and maintain high levels of integrity. The toolkit contains:

  • information sheets with background information, good practice advice, examples and links to further information
  • case studies providing real-life examples of integrity breaches in public sector agencies
  • useful tips, checklists and templates.

New content will be added regularly. We are asking agencies to share their case studies, tools and resources. If you would like to contribute, email us at ethics@apsc.gov.au.   Hide content


The APS BRANDs it!

The response from APS employees to the BRANDit competition has been terrific.   Show more

During this month-long competition, APS staff across Australia submitted 636 inspiring, quirky and impressive entries. We thank everyone who took the time to create a tagline that shares the pride and passion for the work they do.

Next steps include shortlisting entries in preparation for deliberations by the judging panel in January.

The winning entry will be announced in February 2017 with event details to be shared via the BRANDit webpage and APSC twitter feed: @APSCnews.   Hide content


Recruitment and security clearances: ensuring merit applies

Within the APS, recruitment is based on merit which, in simple terms, means all eligible Australian citizens have an opportunity to apply. It is not reasonable to exclude candidates who are willing to obtain a security clearance, but do not have one at the time of their application.  Show more

The APSC reminds agencies that it is inconsistent with the merit principle to make holding a security clearance at the time of application a real or implied advantage. This also applies to recruiters acting on behalf of agencies. However, there are limited circumstances where exceptions apply. For example, engaging someone with security clearance to perform a short-term fixed body of work.

You can find out more about security clearances in the APS on the Conditions of engagement page of the APSC website. APS HR teams can call 02 6202 3857 or email staffingpolicy@apsc.gov.au with their questions.   Hide content


The flexibility to balance your APS career and your life

Having a fulfilling career and achieving work-life balance is a reality in the APS.   Show more

APS employees have access to flex time that allows them to manage their own working hours within a specified bandwidth, as long as operational requirements are met.

Most APS agencies have their own enterprise agreement that outlines an employee’s terms and conditions of employment. APS employees can generally access part time arrangements, job sharing and working from home arrangements.

APS employees have access to four weeks of paid annual leave for each year of service. A number of agencies also provide a Christmas closedown or reduced activity period. This means employees are able to take a break between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day without having to use their own leave entitlements.

Leave provisions also include 12 weeks paid maternity leave, leave for primary caregivers of adopted and permanently fostered children and many agencies provide paid leave for supporting partners.

Where these arrangements appear in existing enterprise agreements they can be carried forward into new agreements currently being bargained.

For more information on these and other flexible working arrangements, consult your agency’s enterprise agreement or your HR area.   Hide content


Bargaining Policy Q&As: What does the Bargaining Policy mean for you?

Not everything said in the media and elsewhere about the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015 has been accurate.   Show more

To help everyone understand the facts about the Workplace Bargaining Policy 2015, the APSC has developed a series of Q&A sheets.

The Bargaining Policy Q&As cover key themes including pay and wage increases, flexible work, domestic violence leave and arbitration.

If you have questions regarding agency specific bargaining, please speak with your agency’s Human Resources team.   Hide content


Your place or ours? We can deliver L&D programs anywhere in Australia.

The APSC now has a fleet of learning facilitators based where you are, or really close by. These facilitators deliver programs that build core APS skills and give APS staff in all locations the benefit of qualified, experienced facilitators who understand the APS context.

This approach works best for agencies with employees requiring the same training. We can manage group sizes from 15 to 30 depending on the program. Our facilitators can also tailor a program to specifically meet the needs of your employees.

To find out how we can help you, contact our In-Agency team at agencytraining@apsc.gov.au


Did you know? 50 years since the lifting of the marriage bar

Did you know that until 18 November 1966, married women could not be hired as permanent employees in the Commonwealth Public Service? Or that every unmarried female officer was deemed to have retired from the service on her day of marriage? This was known as the “marriage bar”.   Show more

The bar reflected the social norms of the early 1900s. Many feared that women would neglect their work in favour of their family duties, or neglect their children in favour of work. Unions were concerned that permanent employment of married women would take jobs away from men.

Single women were denied training because it was thought to be wasted. Married women could return as temporary employees, normally as typists, because this work was deemed unsuitable for men. However, women could not be supervisors and they were required to forfeit their superannuation rights.

The marriage bar meant many women ‘lived in sin’ during a time when social penalties for this were steep. Others hid their marriage until later-stages of pregnancy made this impossible.

The process of lifting the marriage bar took several years. It was recommended in the Boyer Report in 1958, but it took two Inter-Departmental Committees, a Permanent Heads Committee, a Cabinet Committee and three formal Submissions to Cabinet before the repeal was finally made law.

In the three years following the lifting of the bar, the number of married women in permanent positions more than tripled, from 3,606 to 10,940. Today, women make up more than half of the APS and their numbers in senior leadership are growing. Many agencies marked the lifting of the marriage bar with a morning tea and reflection on the impact this change had within the APS.   Hide content


APSwide event: A Year in Review – The year that was and what the future holds

Book your place now!

An annual event, this year’s Secretary panel on Wednesday, 7 December 2016 at the Canberra Southern Cross Club and streamed to the States, offers a rare opportunity for all levels of the APS to engage with public service leaders.

All APS employees are invited to join us to reflect on the year that was and delve into the possibilities of the future.

Facilitated by Holly Ransom, CEO of Emergent, the panel speakers include:

  • Senator the Hon Arthur Sinodinos AO, Cabinet Secretary
  • Ms Renée Leon PSM, Secretary, Department of Employment
  • Ms Glenys Beauchamp PSM, Secretary, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

Showcasing good practice

ATO shows that positive attendance works

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has introduced a new approach to creating a positive attendance culture which has resulted in a drop in unscheduled absence and Comcare workers' compensation premiums.  Show more

Unscheduled absence at the ATO is now at its lowest rate since November 2003 and this year’s Comcare premium rate shows an 11% reduction.

The ATO used predictive data, analytics and ongoing research to identify and target high risk business areas. The ATO then piloted and implemented modern, evidence based approaches.

By using this new approach the ATO has:

  • reported and analysed monthly health data including leave, engagement, incidents, health and conduct cases to target prevention activities
  • worked with higher risk business areas to develop tailored attendance and health management solutions that recognise the unique circumstances and issues in these areas
  • piloted an automated monthly email to employees and their managers containing a visual summary of leave taken in the past month and 12 months
  • promoted WorkPace software to educate staff and remind them of safe, ergonomic work habits
  • developed initiatives to raise health and wellbeing awareness including ergonomic quick-checks by qualified occupational therapists, and behavioural economics based approaches
  • used on-site HR support teams to provide foundational attendance and health support for managers.

The ATO also developed a new Attendance Management policy and guidelines to support this approach.

For more information on the ATO’s pilot, please contact Kym Dixon, Director, Attendance Management and Prevention.   Hide content


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