Flexible work: half of VPS using all roles flex

By David Donaldson

Wednesday April 3, 2019

Flexible work is common in the VPS, according to new data. Plus the gender pay gap has almost halved in the past five years.

Just over half of all Victorian public servants are using at least one flexible work arrangement, says the 2017-18 State of the Service report, released by the Victorian Public Sector Commission on Friday.

In the VPS, 51% of staff use flex, though this number drops down to 46% for the public sector as a whole.

Women are more likely to take up flex options than men, especially when it comes to working part-time. While only 11% of men in the VPS work part-time, 35% of women do.

The most frequently used flexible working arrangements were:

  • Flexible start and finish times — 65%
  • Working remotely — 37%
  • Part-time arrangements — 27%
  • Using leave to work flexible hours — 21%

There is some variation between departments, however. Environment, Land, Water and Planning had the highest number of staff taking advantage of at least one flex arrangement, followed closely by Premier and Cabinet. At the time the survey was taken, Justice and Regulation was lowest:

  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning — 64%
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet — 63%
  • Victoria Police — 55%
  • Department of Health and Human Services — 51%
  • Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources — 49%
  • Department of Education and Training — 48%
  • Department of Treasury and Finance — 47%
  • Department of Justice and Regulation — 42%

In September 2016, the Victorian Secretaries Board committed to an ‘all roles flex’ policy across the VPS. Previous state of the service reports haven’t counted the number of staff using flexible arrangements.

Gender pay gap

The gender pay gap within the VPS has almost halved in five years, down from 6.1% to 3.3% since 2013.

The VPS’s pay gap is lower than the public sector as a whole.

The gap between the median salary for men and women reflects the different distribution of genders across classification levels, says the VPSC. Women were more likely than men to be employed at classification levels in the lower half of the salary scale.

When gender pay is compared within classification levels, however, the differences were relatively small, generally less than 2%, or $2000 per year.


Stress appears to be widespread.

Around one-quarter of public servants said they experienced high-to-severe stress in their job, while 62% had low-to-moderate stress and 12% reported no stress at all.

Most VPS employees (68%) reported the “nature of work and work demands” as the main cause of stress. The top three reported-causes of stress relating to work nature and demands were:

  • Time pressure — 56%
  • Amount of work allocated — 56%
  • Conflicting work demands — 28%

The survey results suggest stress is strongly influenced by an employee’s interaction with their supervisor, and exposure to unpleasant behaviours. Among those experiencing severe stress, the biggest causes nominated were: level of support from supervisor; incivility, bullying or harassment; and relationship with supervisor.

Employees with management responsibilities were more likely to report high stress but were also more likely to be satisfied with their job. Perhaps this is due to the relationship between stress and control at work.

Only 54% of VPS employees agreed effective procedures were in place to support employees experiencing stress.

“This suggests that public service organisations could be more active in implementing and promoting procedures to respond to workplace stress,” says the VPSC.

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