Equal Employment Opportunity Annual Report – 1997 Initiatives Undertaken & Review of Policies and Practices

Several personnel-related policies and practices were examined during 1996/97 and a number of changes were implemented; these are summarised below.

Staff Selection

The Bank continues to support the employment of people from the EEO groups, including through the Modern Australian Apprenticeship and Trainee System. Advertisements are placed in the Koori Mail and also advised to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Network (ATSIEN). Where aptitude tests are administered to job applicants they are modified to accommodate those with disabilities. For trainees the Bank maintains contact with the relevant training college to help ensure that appropriate facilities and adjustments are available to those with disabilities. During the year employment was also provided through a vocational training program for people with intellectual disabilities.

New position descriptions for managerial and supervisory jobs now include an EEO accountability statement.

New guidelines for pre-employment medical testing were issued during the year which have regard to anti-discrimination legislation and ensure that any tests are related to the inherent requirements of the job. The guidelines also provide for reasonable adjustment to the workplace to enable people with disabilities to carry out the duties of the position.

During the year the Bank's booklet on Selection Panel Guidelines was updated to include reference to EEO principles and made available on the Bank's computer network. It includes guidance on the assessment of applicants with disabilities and the principle of reasonable adjustment. The gender composition of selection panels continues to be monitored on a quarterly basis. A number of work areas were restructured during the year and the new position descriptions for managerial/supervisory jobs now include an EEO accountability statement.

An analysis of graduate recruitment was undertaken in an attempt to explain the lower female representation at graduate level entry.

An analysis of graduate recruitment applications was undertaken in an attempt to explain the lower female representation in graduate level entry to the Bank. This confirmed that recruits were merit selected and that the gender ratio of graduate applicants reflected the gender ratio of those studying relevant disciplines at university. It also found that a higher proportion of female applicants were declined on the basis that their subject majors were less relevant for the Bank's work. Care has been taken in designing graduate promotional material to encourage qualified applicants from all groups. Universities were also contacted to encourage any Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people studying relevant disciplines to apply for graduate vacancies.

New arrangements have been introduced as part of the Bank's 1997 Productivity Bargaining Agreement to handle major restructures involving redundancy. While it remains the norm to advertise vacancies, there is now discretion to transfer staff into new positions at the same classification, where this is not unfair to those displaced by restructuring. This should assist in the placement of people returning from extended leave and reduce the period of uncertainty for all staff following changes to work needs.

The Bank actively seeks applications for work experience from EEO groups through direct contact with agencies specialising in the placement of students from an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background and those with disabilities.

Career Development & Staff Training

The EEO progress reports compiled by each functional area focus on developing staff through formalised training courses, assistance with 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.

Supervisors are encouraged to assess their employees' training and development needs through the performance appraisal process.

The directory of Bank-provided training courses was updated and distributed during the year to all staff. The courses cover a wide range of knowledge and skill areas including induction, customer service, supervision, leadership, and business writing. A management development program was run again during the year. All Bank courses are available on a non-residential basis, if required, to accommodate staff with dependant care or other after-hours responsibilities.

A training needs survey was circulated to all areas to help them plan future training, and Training Services liaised with functional areas on the training of female managers. Tailored training programs for areas with a high proportion of staff from non-English speaking backgrounds were also provided.

Attendances at the Bank's self-paced learning centres doubled from last year. The centres are equipped with a range of materials which are available on a take-home basis. The Head Office centre also includes a library on courses of study and other external development opportunities, including the Springboard Program, a professional development course for non-managerial women. Springboard information was also sent to all departments to encourage participation.

An English as a Second Language (ESL) course was piloted during the year using a language specialist. It focussed on professional communication skills. Participating staff and their managers will assess its effectiveness for wider use in the Bank. Some staff attended other programs outside the Bank run by the Adult Migrant English Service. Staff from non-English speaking backgrounds were also assisted in the preparation of business letters and resumes.

Staff Appraisal

During the year, a number of refinements were made to the Bank's salaried staff performance appraisal arrangements. The changes, negotiated as part of the Bank's 1997 Productivity Bargaining Agreement, were aimed at improving the scheme's effectiveness and flexibility, including for those staff with extended absence during the appraisal period.

Appraisal scheme changes were aimed at improving the scheme's effectiveness & flexibility.

Reflecting the above revisions, an issue regarding the Bank's performance appraisal/pay arrangements which was outstanding with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission was withdrawn.

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 performance pay round was effective and fair.

Health & Safety

The Bank now self insures and manages its workers compensation under licence from the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission. During the year the Bank and relevant unions finalised a new Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Agreement. It reflects the additional advisory role that the Health & Safety Committees now have in matters relating to the Bank's administration of workers' compensation.

A training program to advise all staff of their OHS responsibilities was conducted and various pamphlets were issued which indicate, in several languages, where to find further assistance. When compensation determinations are made, a “notice of rights” information is sent to all claimants – this is available in four languages.

A training program to inform all staff of their OHS responsibilities was conducted during the year.

NPA has continued to place great emphasis on occupational health and safety. These issues are routinely covered in induction training and other regular health and safety meetings. Progress has continued to be made to address manual handling issues in the workplace and to identify appropriate duties for staff with disabilities. Employees are involved in safety inspections of their work areas and presentations on monthly safety themes. A recent health and safety audit by Comcare placed NPA in the top echelon of Commonwealth bodies and has led to it being promoted as an example of best practice.

Personnel Policy and Support Services Departments continued to provide advice to other areas on OHS issues and workplace adjustment for staff with disabilities.

Conditions of Employment

Job Sharing

As part of the 1997 Productivity Bargaining Agreement (PBA), guidelines for job-sharing were developed and a two year trial of job-sharing implemented. A central register will be maintained of interested parties. Although there has previously been scope for some job-sharing by female employees resuming from parental leave, these new arrangements will facilitate job-share opportunities for a wider group of employees. Job-sharers will receive pro-rata pay and leave entitlements.

Work Hour Flexibility

Enhancements to arrangements for work hour flexibility were introduced. Subject to mutual agreement between the Bank and the employee, late finishes or early starts of up to two hours may be offset by an early finish or late start on another day.

Enhancements to arrangements for work hour flexibility were introduced.

Redundancy Arrangements

Revised redundancy arrangements were agreed as part of the PBA. These arrangements provide greater administrative simplicity than the previous RAGE based arrangements, allow the Bank to determine who is to be retrenched, set out guidelines on the selection of employees for retrenchment and, in exchange, provide increased redundancy payments. Staff on parental leave or other extended leave will be treated in the same way as staff at desk.

Exit Interviews

The Bank continues to collect information through exit interviews with departing staff. During the year the interview summary form was modified to seek better information from those who had used parental leave or sought part-time work.

Parental Leave

The Parental Leave booklet, which contains a summary of the main features of the Bank's parental leave and part-time work contiguous with parental leave provisions, was updated and made available to staff through the Bank's personal computer network. The provision under which women on parental leave of less than 12 months have their job held open for their return was extended to men.

Part-Day Leave

In the PBA the Bank agreed to explore the possible introduction of a part-day leave option for various types of leave. This investigation has commenced.

Grievance Procedures

Enhanced arrangements for handling grievances were introduced during the year. The role of Grievance Contact Officers (GCOs) has been changed to focus on the provision of advice, with the investigation of grievances remaining the responsibility of management. As a result, in each functional area, new GCOs were appointed and trained. This group of GCOs is more representative of staff as a whole than previously – over 50% are women, 13% are from a non-English speaking background and they cover a wider salary range. A booklet, Handling Grievances, was distributed to all staff. The GCOs have set up an information exchange network.

The role of Grievance Contact Officers has been changed to focus on the provision of advice.....the investigation of grievances remains the responsibility of management.

Staff can take a grievance to the Bank's Grievance Authority if workplace resolution is unsuccessful. During the year the Authority considered three matters lodged by staff. None of these were from women. The complaints related to dismissal, termination after the probationary period, and perceived prevention from gaining a substantive position. At NPA, one grievance was lodged by a woman regarding salary progression.

Health Fund

Same-sex bona fide partners of staff may now access benefits of the Bank's in-house health fund for employees.

Superannuation Fund Rules

New rules came into force for the Bank's superannuation fund which allow members to keep contributing while on leave without pay.

Access for People with Disabilities

The Bank has reviewed discussion papers from the Building Code Board of Australia to establish obligations in relation to compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). An audit is also proposed of some Bank buildings to assess the level of DDA compliance and develop an action plan for any required remedial works. During the year facilities have been modified in three buildings to provide better access.

An audit is proposed of some Bank buildings to assess compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act.

Collection of Statistics

During the year a new personnel information system with improved data analysis capabilities was implemented. It has provision for the use of the Australian Standard Classification of Occupations (ASCO) codes. The codes are described in Appendix 3.