Equal Employment Opportunity Annual Report – 1999 Initiatives Undertaken & Review of Policies and Practices

Review of EEO Progress Reports

All departments submitted their second progress report under the EEO plan this year. A number of departments reported changes to long-standing practices to bring them into line with the EEO program and improve opportunities. Initiatives taken over the last year include: the approval of job sharing and permanent part-time arrangements; the development of a Disability Action Plan for departments who deal with members of the public; the production of a booklet on Managing People with Disabilities; and the incorporation of EEO and grievance policies in the business plans of individual business units.

Produced a booklet “Managing People with Disabilities”.

Difficulties encountered during implementation of the Plan included: limited recruitment opportunities; resource constraints impacting on the level of staff training; resource pressures resulting from extended staff leave absences; and the impact of restructuring and redundancies on EEO initiatives.

Staff Selection

The Bank recognises the contribution of workplace diversity to the efficiency of its operations and continues to monitor and adapt its recruitment and selection policies in pursuit of that objective. At each entry point and via promotion opportunities, the Bank continued to support the employment and advancement of people from EEO groups within the principles of merit selection.

Bank recruitment programs reviewed to ensure they remained open, fair and attractive to a diverse audience.

As in years past, the Bank's major recruitment programs were reviewed and adjusted to ensure they remained open, fair and attractive to a diverse audience. Graduate promotional material was redesigned to encourage applications from all EEO groups with careful attention to the selection of graduate profiles to reflect the diversity of the Bank's graduate staff. With a view to encouraging more female applicants, a profile was included in the material of a senior female member of staff who has successfully combined a career, post-graduate study and family responsibilities.

In 1998/99, the gender balance of graduate recruitment applications continued to be a focus. The percentage of graduate applications from women remained around 30%, largely replicating the gender composition of those studying relevant disciplines in university. When accounting for the initial imbalance, female applicants fared proportionally better than males through subsequent stages of the recruitment processes (ie. 34% of women applicants reached the interview stage as opposed to 30% for men, and 18% of women applicants were offered employment compared to only 14% for men). The Bank continually seeks to improve the gender balance of its graduate intake via its promotional material and liaison with relevant bodies ie. universities, graduate career councils, high school teacher groups, and other concerned graduate employers.

Over the year, the Bank expanded its support for the Government's New Apprenticeship and Traineeship Program with fifteen trainees commencing a 12 month Traineeship in early 1999. Again, a small number of designated places were assigned for disadvantaged groups and the Bank sought assistance in sourcing appropriate candidates from specialist employment agencies which work closely with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and people with disabilities.

Traineeship program revised.

The design and structure of the Traineeship Program was again revised in light of developments to the Government scheme and to maximise opportunities for the trainees' success. Dual training streams and self-paced learning technique were again utilised to provide greater scope for progress within and between training levels and to facilitate increased on-the-job training identified by previous trainees as a more productive learning environment.

The Bank continued to monitor position descriptions to ensure knowledge and skill specifications reflected the inherent requirements of the job and included, where appropriate, a workplace diversity accountability statement. Entry level position descriptions were brought into line with those at higher levels to reflect outputs and to clearly identify skill requirements. Transfers and internal secondments were again utilised to better meet short-term work demands while enhancing the development opportunities of staff.

The present internal selection processes involving the use of three-person selection panels, written job applications and applicant interviews, were introduced in 1991 with the aim of enhancing fairness, merit and openness in the appointment and promotion of Bank staff. For promotions to positions below Senior Management level, staff were able to challenge the successful promotee on the grounds of superior efficiency through the Promotions Board of Review. However, given the small number of appeals, the Bank sought the abolition of the appeal provisions. Accordingly, as agreed under the Productivity Bargaining Agreement 1999–2000, the Promotions Board of Review has been abolished, effective from July 1999.

Steps have been taken to enhance the integrity of selection panel arrangements.

Nevertheless, the Bank has been mindful of the need to ensure that all panel members continue to be alert to the principles of merit selection and natural justice and of the need to safeguard against practices that may constitute discrimination and patronage. A number of steps have been taken to enhance the integrity of the selection panel arrangements, including: a staff member from Personnel Policy Department to be included on all selection panels; a second panel member to be chosen by the Chairperson of the selection panel from a list of suitable staff provided by Personnel Policy Department; the Personnel Policy representative to ensure that procedural aspects do not compromise the merit selection process, and to raise unresolved procedural issues with the Head of Personnel Policy; and where panel decisions are not unanimous, the Head of Personnel Policy and the relevant Assistant Governor are to confer to determine appropriate action.

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

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 throughout the performance and staff appraisal process and to agree on appropriate action.

The directory of Bank-provided training courses was updated and made available to all staff electronically via Infoline (PC Network) and the Bank's intranet. The courses cover a wide range of knowledge and skill areas including induction, performance management, supervision, leadership, business writing and a full range of PC software application training.

A Management Development Program was run during the year. Of the 16 participants 7 were women. This Program, while primarily residential, was also made available to women on parental leave on a “daily attendance” basis. All Bank courses are available on a non-residential basis, if required, to accommodate staff with dependant care or other after-hours responsibilities.

Further development opportunities occurred through local and overseas secondments. Two employees were seconded to other employers within Australia and another five, including one woman, were seconded overseas during the year. These overseas secondments include technical assistance projects. Four women attended overseas conferences.

Attendances to the Self-Paced Learning Centres (SPLCs), continue to increase each year and totalled 1220 hours this reporting period. The centres, in Head Office and branch locations, are equipped with a range of materials which are also available on a take-home basis. A range of PC software training is also being made available to staff at desk via the intranet.

Self-paced learning has provided staff with options for development which can be organised around work and home commitments.

The flexibility of self-paced learning has provided staff with a range of options for development which can be organised around work and home commitments. They have proved to be of particular assistance to people returning to work after leave, especially women returning after parental leave.

The Head Office centre also includes a library on courses of study, overseas development courses and other external development opportunities, including the Springboard Program, a professional development course for non-managerial women. Since 1993, 64 women have attended the course.

English as a Second Language (ESL) coaching has become a regular program. Staff from non-English speaking backgrounds are assisted with business language and writing coaching if they require help.

Changes to the Bank's Study Assistance Scheme came into effect on 1 July 1998. Previously, study assistance was provided to staff on an up-front basis. From 1998/99, study assistance costs were reimbursed upon successful completion of subjects.

The number of staff receiving study assistance for 1998/99 was 94 (11% of staff), down from 146 (14% of staff) for 1997/98. While this outcome suggests that the reimbursement scheme may have had some impact on study assistance take-up, other factors appear to have had an effect, for example, the continuing decline in the number of clerical staff and the transfer of a group of staff, where study assistance usage was fairly high, to the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) from July 1998.

Of those receiving study assistance for 1998/99, 38% were women, down slightly from 39% in 1997/98. The 1998 EEO Annual Report identified an under-representation of women in courses of study. There still remains a slight under-representation of women receiving study assistance, with 10% of women, compared to 12% of men, receiving study assistance for 1998/99. Men outnumber women in all levels of study.

Further analysis of the educational qualifications of staff showed that nearly 40% of Bank staff have some form of post-secondary qualification. However, only around 29% of women currently hold post-secondary qualifications, compared to 44% of men.

Staff Appraisal

Performance pay outcomes in 1998 were monitored in relation to functional areas, classification levels and EEO groups. The overall results indicated that the performance pay round was conducted fairly, in line with the Bank's guidelines. In an attempt to increase the flexibility of the process the Bank last modified the performance pay arrangements in 1997 when a quota system was introduced. While these changes worked smoothly from an administrative perspective, managers and supervisors have continued to experience some difficulties in reconciling their preferred ratings to the available quotas. Accordingly, the Bank believes that the objectives of the performance pay system would be better realised if quotas for different performance pay ratings were abolished. Under productivity bargaining arrangements, the current quotas within the performance pay system are to be removed, and payments will be effected within existing overall constraints.

Conditions of Employment

Parental Leave

The Bank's current EEO plan has an objective to ensure that personnel policies and practices are fair and equitable and assist in the retention of valued staff including those with parenting responsibilities. In this context, the current parental leave arrangements are to be changed as they have, to a large extent, failed to meet their objective of effectively facilitating the return to work and retention of skilled female employees.

The Bank's current arrangements allow women access to parental leave of up to 78 weeks which may be extended by the use of accrued long service and annual leave, making absences of over two years possible. With the rapidly changing nature of the Bank's functions and work processes, skill levels quickly fade and as jobs normally cannot be held open for such long periods (jobs are not required to be held open beyond 12 months), these staff generally find themselves placed in supernumerary type roles, at least for a transitional period, pending reappointment to a permanent position. This is costly for the Bank and provides little satisfaction for the staff member.

Parental Leave absences to be limited to 12 months from January 2000 in conjunction with guaranteed period of part-time work on return.

Changes to parental leave negotiated under the Productivity Bargaining Agreement 1999–2000 will address this problem by bringing parental leave arrangements more into line with other employers. In particular, the maximum absence for parenting purposes will be restricted to 12 months, irrespective of whether the absence is covered by paid or unpaid leave. Therefore, parenting absences cannot be extended through use of long service leave or annual leave. However, in conjunction with the reduction in the maximum period of parental leave absence, there is a guarantee of a minimum of six months part-time work in the employee's position or another comparable position on resumption. The Bank will endeavour to accommodate requests for additional part-time work beyond the six month period in terms of existing arrangements.

The 12 month maximum parenting absence will apply to those staff commencing parental leave after 1 January 2000. From this date, such staff will be eligible to apply and be considered for advertised vacant positions without the requirement to resume work prior to expiration of the 12 month parental leave period. The proposed changes will better facilitate the retention and career development of female employees.

Separately, the Bank has extended to male staff the same entitlements as available to female staff in relation to parental leave and access to part-time work contiguous with parental leave.

Exploration of feasibility of salary sacrifice for superannuation and child care fees.

Salary Sacrifice

During the life of the Productivity Bargaining Agreement 1999–2000 the Bank has agreed to explore the feasibility of introducing salary sacrifice arrangements for superannuation and child care fees. This will require identifying whether there would be a significant benefit for a substantial number of staff, the legal/tax requirements that need to be met, and the administrative implications for current Bank payroll and superannuation computer systems.

Job Sharing

As part of the 1997 Productivity Bargaining Agreement (PBA) guidelines were developed and introduced for job-sharing and a two year trial of job-sharing was implemented in 1996/97. A central register was established for interested parties. The Bank will commence a review of the outcomes of the trial by the end of 1999 to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the arrangements and to consider whether job sharing should be a permanent addition to the Bank's flexible work arrangements. Two job share arrangements, to cover 9 month parental leave absences, were established in Head Office during the reporting period.

Part-Day Leave

Review of the Part-Day Carer's Leave trial and assessment of value of other part-day leave types.

A six month trial period commenced in January 1999 for part-day carer's leave. Operating guidelines were placed on Infoline for easy access by all staff. It is hoped the trial will provide a little extra flexibility for staff without any adverse impact on administrative processes. A review of the outcome of the trial will be commenced by the end of 1999 to assess the benefit of this additional flexibility for staff, and the impact on administrative processes. The Bank will also monitor other part-day leave arrangements being introduced by comparable employers to assess whether their introduction could further assist to meet the needs of the Bank and staff.

Grievance Contact Officers

A network of Grievance Contact Officers has been in place for the last three years to assist with the workplace resolution of grievances. A number of new Grievance Contact Officers (GCOs) were appointed during the reporting period and one-on-one training was provided where practicable. To ensure that all the GCOs maintained their skills and knowledge gained from their initial training sessions, a half day refresher course was held. (An effective GCO can assist in limiting the number of formal grievances lodged, including harassment/discrimination complaints, as well as avoiding compensation claims.) GCOs provide advice for staff as to available options; they are not involved in the investigation of grievances.

If workplace resolution is unsuccessful, staff can take the grievance to the Bank's Grievance Authority, which is an internal Bank body with an independent chairperson. Two matters were lodged with the Grievance Authority during the year.

Work Performed from Home (Telecommuting)

The Bank proposes to review the procedures and practices of other employers to assess whether there are likely to be benefits to the Bank and staff from the introduction of formal guidelines for some form of trial of telecommuting.

Junior Salary Rates

Currently the Bank has a junior salary scale which applies to all staff recruited below the age of 21. The junior scale is of little relevance in the Bank today because of the change in the nature of Bank work and the skills profile required of recruits has meant that most recruits with the necessary education and experience are either close to, or older than, age 21. As at 30 June 1999 there were only six staff on the junior salary scale.

Consideration will be given to abolishing or amending current arrangements for the employment of junior staff, provided this is consistent with Commonwealth Government legislation and decisions of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission.

Collection of Statistics

Staff Survey

The value of a workplace survey was discussed by the EEO Policy Committee. A comprehensive staff survey was conducted in 1987. The were two main objectives of the Survey – first to give the Bank an accurate picture of staff to assist in drawing up the Bank's first EEO program and second, to provide a statistical “starting point” for monitoring changes in the Bank's staff. Since then statistics have been kept up-to-date by the voluntary completion of a New Appointment Equal Employment Opportunity Information Form upon entry to the Bank. The Committee felt that the benefits of a further comprehensive survey at this time would be marginal at best.

Disability Action Plan

Development of the Disability Action Plan was completed during the reporting period by a committee of representatives from departments of the Bank which have direct contact with the public. The Plan aims to identify potential and existing discriminatory practices and enables the Bank to set a schedule of steps for the removal of barriers to people with disabilities. The Plan covers the areas of service delivery, accessibility of buildings, communication, employment practices and education and training.