Movement of employees
Each year a large number of employees move into and within the APS. These movements are calculated over a full calendar year rather than at a point in time. During the 2021 calendar year, there were 37,990 movements consisting:
- 14,733 people engaged as ongoing employees.
- 15,688 current employees promoted within their agency.
- 1,712 current employees promoted to another APS agency.
- 4,549 employees transferred permanently to another APS agency.
- 1,308 employees temporarily transferred to another APS agency.
These movements equate to 28.4% of ongoing staff taking up initial employment, changing jobs or being promoted within the APS in the year to 31 December 2021. The true mobility of the APS is however higher and includes internal moves within each agency. APSED data does not include movements at-level within agencies, or secondments among agencies.
Engagements of ongoing employees into the APS increased by 58.8% (14,733 new employees) in 2021 compared to 2020, which saw 9,280 new employees. This is the most number of ongoing engagements in a calendar year since 2007. Over the last 20 years the number of engagements have fluctuated from 2,704 during the recruitment freeze in 2014–2015 to a peak of 19,446 in the 2007 calendar year (APSED December 2021 Table 50). The number of engagements in 2021 included 183 employees who commenced at the Australian Taxation Office via a Machinery of Government move from the Australian Security Investment Commission on the 15th of April 2021.
Most engagements during the 2021 calendar year were at the APS 4 (19.0%), APS 6 (17.1%), APS 5 (16.5%), and APS 3 (15.7%) levels (APSED December 2021 Table 51).
Movements between agencies and temporary transfers
As a whole, permanent and temporary transfer movements between agencies are normally a relatively small part of the mobility picture across the APS. In the 2021 calendar year, a total of 7,569 or 5.7% of ongoing employees moved to another agency within the APS either by a permanent move, as a promotion, or as a temporary transfer. This is a significantly higher rate compared to the last years 20 years where the rate of movement between agencies has ranged between 1.5 and 3.9%.
A temporary transfer is the movement of an APS employee to another APS agency, at any level, for a specified period with the intention that the employee will return to their home agency. During the 2021 calendar year, there were 1,308 temporary transfers across the APS, which was an increase of 368 from the previous calendar year and the highest number over the last 20 years (Figure 4.1). Temporary transfers accounted for 3.4% of all movements recorded through the APSED for 2021.
A majority of temporary transfers to another APS agency were at the same classification level. Since the 2009 calendar year, the proportion of temporary transfers at the same classification level ranged from 72.1% to 88.1%. In contrast, there was little difference in the number of temporary transfers at level and higher duties between the 2001 and 2004 calendar years.
Figure 4.1: Temporary transfer at level or with higher duties, 2002 to 2021.
Length of temporary transfer
The median length of time employees go on temporary transfer to another agency is approximately six months. This is a consistent trend over the last 15 years. Since 2002, around 38% of employees who went on temporary transfer ended up moving permanently to that agency within six months of the temporary transfer ending.
The majority of ongoing APS employees have only worked in one agency. At 31 December 2021, 68.4% of ongoing APS employees had only worked in one agency, 19.3% in two agencies and 12.3% in three or more agencies (APSED December 2021 Table 45).
The proportion of APS employees with multi-agency experience varied based on some key demographics. For example, ongoing employees who have worked in multiple agencies are:
The drivers behind these variables are likely related. Most policy agencies are located within the Australian Capital Territory, which affects the mobility rates behind both location and agency type. Seniority is linked to tenure in the APS. The median length of service of SES is 19.1 years, affording them a greater opportunity to work across multiple agencies.
Employees separate from the APS through a number of mechanisms including resignations, termination of employment, retrenchment, age retirement, physical or mental incapacity, death or compulsory movement to a non-APS agency. During the 2021 calendar year, there were 9,904 separations of ongoing employees, an increase of 2,336 (or 30.9%) from 2020. Compared to the previous year, there were 1,964 more resignations and 711 more age retirements during 2021. Unlike engagements, separations have remained relatively stable over time, fluctuating between approximately 7,000 and 13,000 employees per year(Figure 4.2).
Figure 4.2: Comparison of Engagements and Separations, 31 December 2002 – 31 December 2021
Resignations are consistently the most common separation type, and comprised 56.5% of all separations over the 2021 calendar year. Age retirements were the second highest separation type across the APS making up 30.4%. Age retirements have continued to increase as a proportion of all separations since 2002. The proportion of age retirements during 2021 was the highest over the last twenty years and is indicative of an ageing APS population.
Trend data indicates the close relationship between the numbers of resignations and retrenchments. Generally, resignations fall as the number of retrenchments rise. The exception to this trend can be seen in the 2018 and 2019 calendar years where some agencies compulsorily transferred to non-APS agencies, reflected as ‘other’ in Figure 4.3. This had an impact on the proportional representation of resignations and retrenchments.
Retrenchments are the third most common separation type with 9.1% over the 2021 calendar year. This has declined from 15.4% in the 2020 calendar year and is the lowest proportion of separations since the 2007 calendar year (APSED December 2021 Table 65).
Figure 4.3: Separations by type, 31 December 2002 – 31 December 2021
Source: APSED December 2021 Table 65