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A diverse workforce is one where employees bring a range of qualities and experiences and where their needs are supported at the workplace. Diversity in the workplace is good business in that employees and officers can contribute to organisation’s goals and productivity by providing key insights of the community and can also provide new ways of working and innovation. Increasing the diversity of the State Service remains a workforce priority, as it supports productive workplaces and reflects the State Service as a fair and equitable employer.
The purpose of Employment Direction No. 3 –Workplace Diversity is to assist all State Service Agencies in making arrangements to provide a work environment that is free from discrimination and harassment, and that draws on the diversity of the community it serves in accordance with the State Service Principles (Section 7 - State Service Act 2000.
Guidelines accompany the ED to assist Heads of Agencies to develop Workplace Diversity Programs, and ensure that:
All Agencies have implemented or renewed their Workplace Diversity Program during the last four years. Activities that were undertaken to support workplace diversity during the reporting period included reviewing flexible work guidelines, participation in Harmony Day, Refugee Week, NAIDOC Week, International Literacy Day, Racism Stops with Me campaign, Multicultural Food Day, Chinese culture and awareness workshops and online training in cultural learning.
Selection panel training and advice to managers were noted to be key to increasing diversity in employment. In this respect, one Agency reported that 353 people had participated in online training. Equal employment opportunity, anti-discrimination measures and diversity support were elements noted in training provided across the Service to assist in increasing diversity representation across the State Service.
During the reporting period, SSMO conducted research into workforce diversity and the various approaches to supporting inclusive recruitment and employment practices. This has included reviewing academic and Human Resources publications, researching how other jurisdictions and State Service agencies are currently managing and supporting workforce diversity, and analysing the results of the State Service workforce surveys for the last few years. This research has led to the start of work on a broad diversity framework for the State Service.
During the reporting period a number of activities across the State Service have been underway to increase employee awareness of how they can better support their colleagues, and people in the community, with disabilities.
For example, initiatives providing entry-level pathways into State Service employment, such as the Graduate Program for People with Disabilities, and the Fixed-term Register for People with Disabilities have continued to be utilised.
In addition to this, a number of programs and practices have developed State Service relationships on employment matters with key stakeholder groups, including the Premier’s Disability Advisory Council, and Disability Support Networks. Other initiatives undertaken in the reporting period have included providing awareness training to employees and the development (and use) of ‘reasonable adjustment guides’ in a number of agencies.
Supporting youth employment is another aspect of the State Service’s diversity focus. Graduate Programs, Cadet Programs, Transition to Practice Programs, apprenticeships, traineeships and the creation of entry-level jobs and pathways continue to be used by agencies to support their employment of younger workers and help them to meet the challenges of an ageing workforce.
In 2014-15 other initiatives such as participation in school careers days, University of Tasmania’s (UTAS) Career Expo, internships in partnership with UTAS and VET work placements, have also continued to be used to engage with young Tasmanians.
Participation in International Youth Day, National Youth Week Activities and school work experience placements were also noted as means of relationship-building across the community.
In 2014-15, a range of initiatives were used across the Service to improve support for people from cultural and linguistically diverse backgrounds in the Service, as well as in the community. Most agencies reported that they were providing awareness and information sessions to employees and officers, including cultural and linguistic aspects in selection panel training. Other specific initiatives include the Department of Education’s Migrant Education Program, and training conducted by the Australian Institute of Management to assist people from culturally diverse backgrounds at LINC sites.
The Tasmanian Government Work Placement Program, for people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, has been running since 2003. The aim of the program is to support improved settlement and employment outcomes by helping former humanitarian entrants and recently-arrived migrants gain experience of an Australian workplace in order to improve their skills and confidence, and to help them develop important networks within State and Local Government agencies and organisations. The program also provides the opportunity for host workplaces to experience the benefits of working with people from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In all, 35 people completed the 2014 program. The participants came from 14 different countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Burma, China, DR Congo, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Korea, Nepal, the Philippines and Thailand. The work placements were in the Departments of Education, Premier and Cabinet, Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment, Health and Human Services, State Growth and the Audit Office (placements were also arranged for the three Councils and Parliament House). Participants experienced work in policy, administration, community services, environmental protection, fleet services, finance and information systems.
Supporting our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees and community is another aspect of the State Service’s diversity focus. In 2014-15, a range of initiatives were used across the Service to support this focus, such as Department of Education’s Aboriginal Training Program for students, and the delivery of their Cultural Understanding Professional Learning module for all teachers to improve cultural competency. Other agencies, such as the Department of Health and Human Services reported that its Ida West Aboriginal Health Scholarship aims to support Aboriginal people who choose to undertake study or training in health and human services-related occupations in Tasmania. The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and the Environment reported that their Working on Country Aboriginal Program (Aboriginal Trainee Ranger), which commenced in 2010, continues to achieve great results. This program involves the Department recruiting identified Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to undertake on-the-job vocational education and training through a Certificate or Diploma in Conservation and Land Management.
Across the State Service, 70.25 per cent of employees are women. There was an ongoing focus on increasing the representation of women at senior levels and in providing appropriate career pathways and development opportunities. Work has also been underway to ensure policies and practices do not provide barriers to participation.
The above section described service-wide and agency-level activities that aim to increase diversity employment and participation in the State Service. Section 7(c) and (i) of the State Service Act 2000 states that:
Agencies deliver a range of awareness and training events to ensure that there is equity, respect and flexibility in the workplace, consistent with the State Service Principles and Code of Conduct. Training, development and information for employees in each of the areas listed below have been delivered either face-to-face or online (for example, through induction, manager/supervisor training, selection panel training), across the State Service this year:
Significant work has also been undertaken during the reporting period to combat discrimination and harassment, including training and support for Workplace Contact Officers, the introduction of e-learning and other training activities and, in one Agency, a Restorative Practices Program. The Agency Survey results also indicated how many people had participated in anti-discrimination, anti-bullying and/or anti-harassment training during the reporting period:
These topic areas are also incorporated into other training and awareness activities, including induction, orientation, manager and supervisor training.
Agencies must ensure that there are appropriate mechanisms to address inappropriate conduct.
Agencies are required to take reasonable and appropriate action to address conduct that does not meet the requirements of the State Service Principles. This is addressed through Employment Direction No. 5 – Procedures for the Investigation and Determination of whether an employee has breached the Code of Conduct.
During the reporting year, ten matters where carried over from 2013-2014 and 39 new investigations commenced across ten Agencies. Thirty-four of these cases resulted in a formal investigation, with reports being provided to the Head of Agencies; 16 matters were sustained, nine were not upheld and nine were unable to be determined as the people involved had resigned prior to determinations being made.
Sanctions can be imposed when a breach is determined. Of those matters where a breach was determined, sanctions involved two demotions, five terminations and the remainder involved counseling and/or formal reprimands. Fifteen matters were carried over into the next year.
Four Agencies undertook investigations under Employment Direction No. 6 – Procedures for the Investigation and Determination of whether an employee is able to efficiently and effectively perform their duties during the reporting period. One matter was carried over, and 16 new matters commenced. Of these, seven matters were finalised (two resignations, one termination, three matters withdrawn and one matter discontinued). Nine matters were carried over.
There are a number of grounds under which an employee’s contract of employment may be terminated, as provided in Section 44(3) of the Act. Terminations during the reporting period were:
There were no terminations of probationary employees and no terminations following Employment Direction No. 26 – Managing Performance in the State Service.
Employment Direction No. 3 – Workplace Diversity (ED No. 3) requires Agencies to assist employees to balance their work, family and other caring responsibilities effectively by mutually beneficial practices through the provision of a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace (ED No. 3 – Section 6(1)(b) and the Act Section 7(i)).
The following sections provide information about measures taken to support employees in the workplace.
Employees are able to lodge information with or notify their Agency if they have grievances or matters requiring resolution. During the reporting period, 116 formal grievances were lodged across agencies. The nature of these grievances covered matters such as work performance, negative workplace behaviour, discrimination/harassment, work-life balance and selection matters. The outcomes of the formal grievances were as follows:
Resolved grievances required mediation, counselling, additional training and a range of the other measures, including better supervision. Twenty-three grievances concerning bullying/harassment were resolved through agency grievance resolution processes, while two matters were resolved via organisations outside the agency, and another eight matters were unresolved (pending) at the end of the reporting period.
Employees are able to seek resolution of a grievance matter by taking it to an external organisation including the Tasmanian Industrial Commission, the Anti-Discrimination Commission, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission and the Ombudsman. Forty-six matters were taken to an external organisation, of which nineteen had initially been through the organisation’s grievance process. External grievance matters included award classification, termination of employment, status of employment, management decisions, and breach of award/conditions of employment, discrimination and harassment.
Agencies reported through the Agency Survey that the review and evaluation of their policies and practices will continue to ensure appropriate mechanisms for employees to notify them of workplace grievances and to have matters dealt with fairly and in a reasonable time frame.
Employment Direction No. 28 - Family Violence – Workplace Arrangements and Requirements addresses the resources and support available to employees and officers experiencing family violence. Responses to the Agency Survey reveal that 29 people sought access to personal leave and special leave entitlements during the reporting period as a result of family violence. All applications were supported by the relevant agencies. In addition to the leave entitlements, agencies also reported that they had provided employees experiencing family violence with other supports such as altered work arrangements or referral to the Employee Assistance Program. In addition, across the Service, approximately 520 employees and officers were trained to support staff experiencing family violence in 2014-15.
The Training Consortium is finalising an online awareness training program for all State Service employees and officers so that they understand their entitlements under this Employment Direction, and more importantly, they know where to seek support should they or a colleague experience family violence.
Employment Direction No. 29 – Managing Employees absent from the workplace aims to emphasise the State Service’s commitment to supporting employees who are absent from work because of illness or injury, whether or not the matter is work-related. The objective is to return the ill or injured employee back to their pre-illness/injury position and performance level, with effective support by the organisation.
Responses to the Agency Survey show that across 15 Agencies, 508 employees had work-related absences of more than five consecutive days. The number of non-related absences of more than five consecutive days across 18 Agencies was 3 313. A range of full-time and graduated return-to-work programs assisted employees’ return to work.
There are a range of flexible work arrangements available to assist employees to balance their work and life, such as alternative work hours and arrangements, return to work, study leave and work location change. The following details some of the initiatives used by agencies to support their employees’ wellbeing and workplace flexibility.
The State Service has two schemes for acquiring additional leave:
Responding to changing employee needs has also seen the development of a Carer’s Action Plan (one Agency) and the introduction of dedicated intranet sites with resources and information.
Leave granted for parental reasons is detailed below:
Transition to retirement policies and practices are being developed across a number of agencies, and some are updating the former phased-in retirement policy or program. SSMO is currently working on a whole-of-service policy, as well as guides and templates. It is important that this provides a level of flexibility for both the employee and the organisation to achieve positive outcomes.
Eleven Agencies reported that 376 employees received direct study assistance in the form of altered work patterns, study leave and financial assistance. Other support was also reported to enable employees to undertake relevant study. The study discipline areas included accounting, business, law, policy, science, economics, project management, professional writing, and information technology.
There is a range of flexible work options available to employees, and the part-time workforce is 49.78 per cent or 13 705 people. Employees are able to request changes to their working arrangements in terms of changing from or to part-time and full-time and varying their working hours.
Policies and practices across the State Service are underpinned by the State Service Principles and Employment Directions, and the State Service will continue to meet the flexible working arrangements where possible so that individuals and organisations can benefit from this.