Looking out for employees

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Westpac Social Impact Report July 2002

Looking out for employees.

Commentary piece by Sharan Burrow, President, Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU).

Key quote: “Australians need family friendly workplaces to ensure an appropriate balance between work and family commitments, and some sensible remedies to address continuing demands for long, unpredictable working hours.”
Social responsibility is a company imperative if corporate governance ratings are to make the grade in a tougher investment climate.
Corporations who adopt a serious approach to respecting human rights, labour laws and environmental standards, and establish standards and transparent reporting on their corporate practices in these areas will earn the support of stakeholders.
Stakeholders are a potent mix. They extend well beyond shareholders to include employees, consumers, and government and non-government organisations. Employees themselves are increasingly a dynamic blend of traditional full time staff, contractors, part-timers, home-based workers and co-employees through outsource partners and suppliers.
Unmanaged stakeholder concerns have the potential to shatter corporate reputations and test shareholder confidence. If it wasn’t evident before, financial engineering in a post-Enron world must be complemented with sound, transparent corporate governance.
Australians need family friendly workplaces to ensure an appropriate balance between work and family commitments, and some sensible remedies to address continuing demands for long, unpredictable working hours. Approximately 60 per cent of Australians in paid employment state that they are now having more trouble balancing work and family.
Australians also expect our politicians, our corporate leaders, our unions and our community leaders to be vigilant against discrimination and to promote equality in the workplace and in society.
Looking out for employees requires at the very least respect for core labour standards. That’s why unions throughout the world have embraced the Global Compact. The Compact’s six principles relating to workplace practices provide world business with a baseline for moving forward:
• Support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights within their sphere of influence;

• Make sure their own corporations are not complicit in human rights abuses;

• Uphold and promote freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining;

• Promote the elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour;

• Promote the effective abolition of child labour; and

• Uphold the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.

The simple application of these principles would guarantee fair wages and conditions, underpinned by collective bargaining, and employment practices that better facilitate work and family balance. They would also deliver equal opportunity and pay equity for women, safe workplaces in accordance with occupational health and safety laws, and production of goods and services that does not rely on forced or child labour.
Such things as paid maternity leave, and full protection of workers’ entitlements also need to move beyond just the progressive companies and become base entitlements for all employees. Twenty-first century communications and the competitive pressure of globalisation means that there is nowhere to hide. The culture of escalating profits by resorting to cutting staff and intensifying work is no longer a guarantee of sustained market gains and performance. As a result, corporate social responsibility has become an imperative for good business.
Our advice to companies is ‘walk the talk’ – work with and in the interests of employees, local communities and customers, provide accurate reporting and shareholders will respond with confidence.


Our employee policies and practices are keystones in ensuring we develop a successful and sustainable business.

Our commitment to our employees involves ensuring:
• staff receive adequate training and development and are selected on merit;

• fair and just wages with equal pay for equal work;

• a safe and hazard free workplace;

• there is no discrimination on the basis of gender or age, sexual preference, race or level of physical ability;

• having a child does not mean leaving the workforce or adversely impacting the chance of advancement;

• a rigorous grievance process that ensures all issues are dealt with promptly and all parties are kept informed throughout the process;

• all reasonable possibilities to retain and re-deploy staff are examined when job restructuring takes place, with affected staff having access to employment transition, counseling and outplacement services; and

• the rights of our employees to freedom of association with representative organisations and trade unions are respected.

We regularly conduct employee surveys to ensure our policies continue to keep pace with our employees’ expectations. Further details on employee policies are set out in our Social Accountability Statement which is available on our website, www.westpac.com.au under the ‘Westpac info’ tab.

Employee profile.

The gender and age profile of our employees is set out below. We are one of Australia’s largest employers, with some 16,274 full-time and 6,902 part-time employees as at 30 September 2001. It is notable for the higher proportion of women than the general workforce and the skewing towards younger workers.

Due to anti-discrimination law, we are currently unable to profile our employees on other relevant demographics. We are examining a voluntary census approach to understanding better our workforce make-up, including identification of disability and ethnicity. In gathering any information we will protect individual privacy and give our employees the ability to choose how or if they wish to be identified.

Training, learning and development

Our training, learning and development policies are comprehensive and encompass skills training for all staff, continuing education for our high performing staff, as well as occupational health and safety training.

Our policy is to encourage our employees to develop new competencies and to enhance their range of skills. In doing so, we provide the opportunity for them to individually plan their training to match their career path. We provide a learning journey in four streams covering orientation, team learning, skills development and executive and managerial development. It is also our practice to actively engage our leaders in facilitating, motivating and coaching our staff.
Over the last 12 months, approximately 700 employees also took part in courses external to their current job requirements at a cost of almost $1.5 million.

Performance evaluation.

Our employment performance processes and practices are based on merit and employee appraisal systems are developed around a balanced scorecard approach. Ultimately we are seeking to evaluate staff performance on their contribution to developing long-term shareholder value in meeting the needs of our customers and other stakeholders.

Our practice is to agree objectives with all employees against which their performance is evaluated. Our employees meet with their supervisor or manager to informally review their contribution on a regular basis with two formal appraisals per year. Staff also share in the financial success of the Group via a performance linked employee share plan.

Executive remuneration fostering sustainable development.

Our executive remuneration philosophy is to link performance rewards to achievements against a balanced scorecard. This means individual executive performance objectives include measures linked not only to financial objectives but also to delivering for staff, customers and the broader community. A minimum of twenty per cent of any performance reward is formally linked to meeting these non-financial objectives. Details of executive remuneration are on pages 54 to 57 of the 2001 Concise Annual Report.

Non-work aspects of career management.

We recognise that many employees have obligations, responsibilities and interests outside the workplace. One of the ways we strive to be an employer of choice is by promoting the work/life balance through employee assistance programs.

We have specific policies designed to assist employees manage their family and work responsibilities including paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave, a process of mutual negotiation of work hours for part-time staff, as well as innovative home based work, job sharing and childcare arrangements.
In Australia, we introduced a Better Life and Work program – a free, independent service that provides employees with information, assistance and advice on personal issues outside our sphere of expertise. Approximately six per cent of our employees make use of this service, which compares with the industry average for such services of three to four per cent of staff.

Employment turnover.

One key to being an employer of choice is creating conditions where our employees feel fully engaged in our business and successful in their jobs and careers. This is essential if we are to build long-term relationships with our employees. With our employee turnover level currently at 19.5 per cent, broadly in line with industry experience, we know we have more to do.

As a result, we are examining our recruitment strategy and our workforce planning. We are seeking to better understand the implications for employee turnover of the demographics of our workforce, which differ from both the general workforce and our customer base. Our intention is to build this understanding into our business planning processes.

Use of temporary employees.

Temporary staff are not used as a means to avoid our obligations to invest in our permanent and part-time staff. We employ call centre and retail store employees on a permanent basis and avoid using temporary staff to fill these positions. Our practice is that individual temporary employees should be employed in any one position for no more than four months in a six-month period.

Occupational health and safety.

Our lost time injury frequency rate for the reporting period was 11.9 injuries per one million hours worked. This reflects an increase in branch hold-ups during that period. In response, an independent security review has been conducted which identified that Westpac has effective security systems implemented but recommended some further enhancements, which are currently being implemented.

The Facts.

Westpac Australia, year to 30 September 2001 unless otherwise stated.

Age profile of workforce.

Under 25, Westpac 12.20%, compared to 19.30% of the Australian Labour Force.

25 – 34, Westpac 38.40%, compared to 23.40% of the Australian Labour Force.

35-44, Westpac 28.40%, compared to 24.70% of the Australian Labour Force.

44-54, Westpac 17.70%, compared to 21.50% of the Australian Labour Force .

55 and over, Westpac 3.30%, compared to 10.70% of the Australian Labour Force.

Australian Labour Force source: ABS 6203.

Gender and age profile.

Under 25. 12.50% female, 11.80% male, 12.20% combined.

25-34. 38.70% female, 37.80% male, 38.40% combined.

35-44. 27.60% female, 29.90% male, 28.40% combined.

45-54. 18.20% female, 16.90% male, 17.70% combined.

55>. 3.00% female, 3.60% male, 3.20% combined.

Male/female salary comparisons.

Executive grade. $323,640 male, $321,688 female.

Management grade. $89,120 male, $75,363 female.

Non-management grade. $37,645 male, $34,896 female.

Westpac pays equal pay for equal work. Differences in the average salary for male and female employees simply reflect the higher proportion of men in senior executive roles.

Women in management.

Executive grade. 82% male, 18% female.

Management grade. 62% male, 38% female.

Non-management grade. 19% male, 81% female.

Employee morale.

March 2001 – March 2002. Scale 0 – 10. Median performance for Australian companies is 6.

In March 2001, employee morale was 6.75%.

In April 2001, employee morale was 6.70%.

In May 2001, employee morale was 6.87%.

In June 2001, employee morale was 6.97%.

In July 2001, employee morale was 7.2%

In August 2001, employee morale was 7.32%.

In September 2001, employee morale was 7.31%.

In October 2001, employee morale was 7.65%.

In November 2001, employee morale was 7.29%.

In December 2001, employee morale was 7.79%.

In January 2002, employee morale was 7.56%.

In February 2002, employee morale was 7.34%.

In March 2002, employee morale was 7.08%.

Employee satisfaction.

Company’s social performance. 90% favourable, 4% unfavourable.

Work / life balance. 68% favourable, 24% unfavourable.

Communication culture. 65% favourable, 23% unfavourable.

Training and development. 63% favourable, 27% unfavourable.

Job security. 54% favourable, 28% unfavourable.

Remuneration and benefits. 44% favourable, 46% unfavourable.

Staff work loads.

Customers per service staff.

Metro location. 136 customers per service staff per week, and 4.1 per hour.

Regional location. 137 customers per service staff per week, and 3.6 per hour.

Call centers. 1022 customers per service staff per week, 26.9 per hour.

Job creation.

From the year to 30 September 2001, there was a decrease of 8.70% in fulltime staff and an increase of 9.2% in part time staff, with a decrease of 4.2% in the total number of staff employed. This compares with a 0.7% decrease in full time staff, a 3.2% increase in part time staff and a total increase of 0.3% in the Australian Labour Force over the same period.

Accumulated annual leave.

As at 30th May 2002.

Under 4 weeks accumulated annual leave. 61.0%.

Greater than 4 weeks and less than 8 weeks. 32.0%.

Greater than 8 weeks. 7.0%.

Staff doing overtime.

(non-packaged staff)

11.6% of staff are doing some overtime.

Extent of overtime worked.

Overtime hours as a percentage of total standard hours.

Employees doing overtime. 11.8% overtime hours as a percentage of total standard hours.

All employees. 1.4% overtime hours as a percentage of total standard hours.

Case study – family services for employees.

Promoting diversity through maternity leave and child care.

We aim to ensure that Westpac employees understand that having a child does not mean having to leave your job or losing your level of seniority. They understand we respect and value their work and family needs. And they know they will receive paid maternity leave and be provided with appropriate assistance to help manage their work and family balance once they do decide to return to work.

We also understand that the best working conditions need to be adaptable enough to cope with social change. In recent times, we have expanded our policies to include paternity and adoption leave. Under our parental leave package, we offer six weeks paid leave or twelve weeks leave at half pay. Following the birth of a child, our staff can take a total period of up to 52 weeks leave from work, depending upon circumstances and eligibility.
To help our employees make the best decision, we have provided a guide to parental leave at Westpac called ‘Great Expectations’. This provides important information on leave provisions, financial arrangements, external assistance, working while on leave and flexible options for returning to work.
We offer our employees an entitlement to return to the position they held before they started their leave. To further assist in meeting family commitments employees may choose to return to work on a part-time basis until their child's second birthday, by agreement with their manager.
Significantly, between 70 and 80 per cent of our female employees return in some capacity after parental leave. From this foundation, we have continued to build a workplace that is conducive to balancing work and family responsibilities. That is why we are providing access to quality childcare in key employment areas. We currently have four child care centers operating in Australia, one of which is a joint venture center with another corporation to help achieve the critical mass of staff necessary to support a viable centre.
Westpac’s childcare centres recently received their 3-year accreditation by the national Childcare Accreditation Council with the highest ratings on all 52 principles. The government awards this accreditation, only if the highest standards are met.
Employees using our child care centres, who are not receiving childcare assistance from the Federal Government, can apply for the Westpac childcare benefit. Recent changes to the tax treatment of employer sponsored childcare facilities have further enhanced this benefit for employees.
Westpac also seeks to provide a family-friendly workplace through our flexible breastfeeding policy. This allows mothers who wish to return to work while still breastfeeding their child, the opportunity through facilities and time, to express milk at work which can be stored and used later during the day. Easy and convenient access to our childcare centres also allows mothers to continue breastfeeding while maintaining a working schedule.
In offering paid parental leave provisions, high quality work-based child care centres and a family-friendly work environment, we have continued to position Westpac as an employer of choice, improved our employee morale and responded to the needs of our staff in achieving a healthy balance between their work and family responsibilities.

Susan Bannigan, National Manager, Strategic Business Implementation comments: “My family and I have been able to take advantage of Westpac's great family-friendly policies, like flexible working hours, paid maternity leave and an excellent childcare facility.”

Number of employees accessing paid parental leave.

In 1999, 1146 employees accessed paid parental leave.

In 2000, 1101 employees accessed paid parental leave.

In 2001, 1026 employees accessed paid parental leave.

Utilisation of Westpac child care centres.

Kids on Bond Children’s Centre. 33 families, 38 children.

Bank of Melbourne Child Care Centre. 49 families, 62 children.

Total. 82 families, 100 children.

Figures for Westpac Children’s Centre Little Gantry not included for this reporting period.

Key achievements for gender diversity.

1. Embedding diversity into key employment policies and programs to advance equitable outcomes for women.

2. Achieving a 95% agreement rate from our female survey respondents that their immediate supervisor genuinely supports equal opportunity (survey of random sample of 1122 staff in April 2002).

3. Achieving similar rates of promotion for men and women at all levels.

4. Achieving a 96% agreement rate from staff surveyed that the work environment is free from sexual harassment (survey of random sample of 1122 staff in April 2002).

5. Launching our breastfeeding policy.

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