Equity & Diversity Annual Report – 2008 Section 4: Work/Life Balance

Section 4.1: Flexible Working Arrangements

The key objective of the RBA's Diversity Plan is to ensure that practices and policies aimed at achieving a better work/life balance are fair and equitable and that they help retain valued staff. A number of policies that provide scope for staff to better balance work and family were reviewed over the year. Looking ahead, the RBA is undertaking a comprehensive review of its flexible work options to determine whether the existing arrangements provide adequate flexibility.

Personal Leave

Personal leave arrangements were reviewed during the reporting period. Staff on contract can now use their full annual personal leave entitlement (which consists of sick and carer's leave) for caring purposes. An additional two days unpaid carer's leave, once the paid leave entitlement has been exhausted, is also available. The proposed Enterprise Agreement seeks to extend this condition to staff covered by the Agreement as well. Personal leave for caring purposes can be taken either on a half-day or full-day basis.

Staff on contract now have access to two days paid compassionate leave per occasion when a member of an employee's immediate family is seriously ill or injured. This is consistent with the new Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard. The proposed Enterprise Agreement also seeks to extend this condition to staff covered by the collective agreement.

In 2007/08, carer's leave was used by 409 staff (or 46 per cent of all staff), an increase of two per cent from last year. The majority of staff who took the leave were men (at 55 per cent of total staff). However, 49 per cent of all women used personal leave for caring purposes compared to 44 per cent of all men.

Part-Time Work

During the previous reporting period, part-time work arrangements were refined and streamlined in order to: enhance flexibility; encourage the establishment of more part-time work opportunities; enable staff to better understand the options and conditions applicable to part-time work; and make it easier for managers to implement and manage part-time work for their staff. During 2007/08, 70 staff worked part-time (62 women, eight men) compared to 60 in 2007 (55 women, five men), an increase of 17 per cent.

Parental Leave

From 2007, women commencing paid maternity leave have the option of 28 weeks on half pay as an alternative to 14 weeks maternity leave on full pay. In 2007/08, 70 per cent of women commencing parental leave opted for maternity leave on half pay. The RBA is also considering other parental leave options incorporated in the new National Employment Standards relating to workplace flexibility.

The chart below provides a breakdown based on gender for staff commencing paid parental leave. During the reporting period, a total of 31 staff commenced paid parental leave (10 women and 21 men). Over the past couple of years a higher percentage of men have taken paid parental leave compared to women. This contrasts with earlier years where the reverse was true.

Graph showing proportion of staff, by gender, commencing paid parental leave from 2003 to 2008.

For this reporting period, a total of 11 women returned from parental leave. Seven of those returning resumed part-time work, two resumed full-time work and two resigned. The return rate of 82 per cent was lower than the 93 per cent recorded last year.

Graph showing proportion of women completing parental leave, according to whether they have resumed work part-time, full-time or have resigned, during the years 2004 to 2008.

Other Arrangements

Work continued on developing flexible working arrangements that would accommodate both the needs of staff and the operational needs of the RBA in a business continuity situation such as an influenza pandemic.

Under the auspices of the RBA's Benevolent Fund, the RBA implemented a volunteering program under which staff can donate a day of paid or unpaid leave to a designated charity and the RBA would, in turn, make an equivalent financial donation to the selected charity.

Section 4.2: Facilities & Services

Childcare Facilities

The RBA offers staff childcare facilities through its joint venture operation, Billabond Children's Centre, for children aged five years and under. At 30 June, 12 children of 10 staff (two women, eight men) were using the Centre. During the reporting period four children from three RBA parents (all men) used the RBA's Vacation Care Program. The program is offered bi-annually for children aged 5–12 years.

To complement the childcare centre, a well-equipped Parent Room is available in Head Office for use by staff. The room provides a private facility for women returning to work who would like to maintain breastfeeding. Staff on parental leave visiting the RBA that need a private space to breastfeed or attend to their child may also use the room. The room has been accredited by the Australian Breastfeeding Association.

Health & Wellbeing Services

The RBA is committed to ensuring the health, safety and welfare of its staff. The RBA's Health Centre, managed by a qualified Occupational Health Nurse, provides: primary health care; ergonomic workstation assessment for all new employees and for staff experiencing difficulties; counselling and support services for staff and managers; rehabilitation case management; OH&S advice; and ongoing support, including a periodical survey, to staff with a disability.

The RBA encourages a healthy lifestyle and as part of its health and wellbeing program offers subsidised Pilates and Yoga classes to RBA staff. The RBA also operates fitness facilities at its Head Office and business recovery site, which are available for use by staff.

Photograph of 2007 Interdepartmental run/walk
2007 Interdepartmental run/walk

During the reporting period, a series of lunchtime health and wellbeing sessions was introduced; these sessions will continue to be held throughout the year on a regular basis. The interactive sessions covered a number of topics including nutrition, stress, diabetes, mental health and maintaining energy levels.

Photograph of team representatives of the 10,000 Steps Challenge
Team representatives of the 10,000 Steps Challenge

In September 2007, the RBA participated in the 10,000 Steps Challenge to encourage staff to take part in regular exercise for a healthy, active lifestyle. Over 300 staff participated, walking the equivalent of four times the equator.

Employee Assistance Program

Following its introduction in 2007, the RBA continues to offer the services of the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to staff. The aim of the EAP is to assist staff resolve personal issues at an early stage and avoid situations which might otherwise ultimately affect their work performance or attendance. The EAP covers a wide variety of problems and concerns such as balancing family and work responsibilities, career and vocational issues, managing and coping with change, and dealing with difficult situations. Access to the EAP is available to all staff within Australia and overseas with initial contact via telephone and, if necessary, subsequent face-to-face sessions.

The RBA also offers the Manager Assist program which provides specialist support and advice to managers and supervisors to assist them in responding to staff matters.

Assistive Technologies

Assistive technology refers to specialty products designed to aid people's access to physical infrastructure and/or computing systems and information. They are generally designed for, but not limited to, individuals who have impairments and disabilities. The RBA's Accessibility Consultative Group was established to provide a forum for discussion and promotion of research and continuous improvement in systems, Internet, building, and information accessibility. During 2007/08, the Group purchased new software for the computing-related accessibility test lab. The lab is used by developers and also staff with a disability to test electronic documents and the RBA's systems.