Equal Employment Opportunity Annual Report – 1996 Key Initiatives Undertaken/Review of Policies and Practices

Several personnel-related policies and practices were examined during 1995/96 and some initiatives were implemented; these are summarised below:

Staff Selection

The Bank continues to encourage suitable potential applicants from the EEO groups for its clerical intake and 12-month traineeship, under the Australian Traineeship Scheme (ATS). Advertisements were placed in the Koori Mail newspaper and also were notified to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Employment Network (ATSIEN). Discussions were held with four specialist employment agencies to identify opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities. The procedures for appointment of new staff have been modified, including a re-writing of the Officer's Declaration in plain English.

The normal clerical aptitude tests were again modified as necessary to accommodate applicants with disabilities. The Bank also negotiated with the relevant training college to help ensure that appropriate facilities and adjustments were available to those trainees with disabilities.

Requests received by the Bank for work experience for people from the EEO designated groups continue to be accommodated where possible. The Bank has registered with a training college that seeks work experience for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

During the year a new booklet, Selection Panel Guidelines, was made available to those involved in the selection process. It identifies the responsibilities of panel members and includes guidance on EEO issues such as the assessment of applicants with disabilities and the principle of reasonable adjustment in the workplace. A sample Panel Report is also now available to panel chairpersons. The gender composition of selection panels is now monitored on a quarterly basis.

Career Development & Staff Training

A brochure was distributed during the year to all staff describing the training opportunities offered by the Bank's internal training service. These courses cover a wide range of-knowledge and skill areas including induction, customer service, supervision, leadership, and business writing. A pilot management development program was launched during the year and discussions are underway with tertiary education providers for articulation to a formal qualification. All Bank courses were offered on a non-residential basis to accommodate staff with dependent care or other responsibilities.

The 1995/96 EEO Plans put together by departments and branches focus on developing staff from the EEO groups through formalised training courses, encouraging external study, job rotation, acting in higher graded positions and external secondments. Supervisors are encouraged to assess their employees' training and development needs through the performance appraisal process and to agree on appropriate action.

After a positive evaluation, membership of the Women and Management Association was continued.

Staff usage of the self-paced learning centre was monitored during the year, with favourable results. It is equipped with a range of compact discs, video tapes, computer-based resources and books, which are available on a take-home basis. Its role was expanded during the year to include a library of resources for staff on courses of study and other external development opportunities, including the Springboard Program, a self development course for non-managerial women. An English as a Second Language (ESL) course is currently being reviewed for possible use in the future.

Staff Appraisal

Although the current performance appraisal scheme has been in operation for a number of years and remains basically unchanged, several modifications were made last year. These included the use of salary increments of different sizes to reward different levels of relative performance and the application of quotas to the different performance levels. During the year the appraisal form was modified to make reference to the Bank's Standards of Conduct, which includes a section on the Bank's discrimination and harassment policy.

Performance pay outcomes were monitored carefully in terms of the Bank's various functional areas, classification levels and EEO groups. In general, the results showed that the changed arrangements had been implemented effectively and fairly. An issue regarding the Bank's performance pay arrangements is currently outstanding with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Health & Safety

Health and Safety Representative training continued to be monitored and Personnel Policy and Support Services Departments continued to provide branches and departments with advice on OHS issues and workplace adjustment for staff with disabilities. At Note Printing Australia (NPA), the OHS Manual was incorporated into the new NPA Enterprise Agreement negotiated during the year, to reinforce the organisation's commitment to maintaining a healthy and safe workplace.

A training module on hazard awareness, designed to be user-friendly for all staff, is being finalised for use at induction courses. An information sheet for staff on health and safety has been developed and includes advice in several languages on where to get further assistance.

Conditions of Employment

Parental leave

The Bank reviewed the return to work provisions for staff taking parental leave and made some changes. For absences up to twelve months, the employee's position will be held open, and those on parental leave who successfully apply for appointment to a vacant position will have three months from the announcement date of a promotion to resume duties. Employees can also now work closer to the expected date of birth if they wish.

Staff who resign or retire shortly after resuming from leave without pay (LWOP) will now have their final payments calculated at their current salary. This includes women who resign after parental leave; previously their final payments were calculated at their pre-LWOP salary.

Permanent/temporary part time work

As part of the 1995–96 Productivity Bargaining Agreement, existing part-time work schemes were reviewed to assess their effectiveness in assisting staff to better manage their work and family commitments. It was agreed to extend slightly the maximum normal hours for staff working on a part-time basis in team-based work areas. This is expected to increase part-time work opportunities.

Carer's leave

A retitling and widening of the pre-existing family leave provision occurred during the year, to cover illness of members of an employee's immediate family or household, with immediate family being as defined in the Sex Discrimination Act. This is in line with the decision of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in the Personal/Carer's Leave Test Case Stage 2.

Grievance procedures

A review was undertaken of existing grievance procedures. In future, Grievance Contact Officers will focus on providing advice to the grievant, with the investigation of grievances remaining the responsibility of management. It is hoped that removing the investigative role will allow appointment of staff to these positions who are more representative of staff as a whole, including members of the EEO groups.

Staff can take a grievance to the Bank's Grievance Authority if workplace resolution is unsuccessful. During the year the Authority considered five matters lodged by staff. Of these, three were from men and two were from women. The complaints related to placement into a substantive position following parental leave; demotion procedures during restructuring; selection panel procedures; an offer of permanent employment to a trainee; and perceived harassment.

At Note Printing Australia no grievances were lodged by staff.

Superannuation fund rules

Rules for the Bank's Superannuation Fund are to be changed to allow employees the option of continuing to contribute while on leave without pay (LWOP). This could be of particular benefit to those on unpaid parental leave.

Procedures for Managing Poor Performance

Arrangements were introduced, following consultation with unions, for managing poor performance by staff. Having clear guidelines should be helpful to staff, and complement the Bank's appraisal arrangements.

Employer-sponsored childcare

An investigation into salary sacrificing for employer-sponsored child care was commenced but, following the Australian Taxation Office's tightening of the definition of business premises for the Fringe Benefits Tax exemption, it was not pursued.