Bureau of Statistics a flexible work champion

By Stephen Easton

Friday June 8, 2018

The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been recognised as the federal public sector’s Champion of Flexible Work as part of Flexible Working Day, which fell on Wednesday.

While not one of the big players in the burgeoning field of international days for recognition and awareness-raising, this year’s FWD — an initiative of a Canberra-based consulting firm — still attracted a reasonable degree of interest.

The Bureau of Statistics is proud to be recognised for its efforts, chief financial officer Lily Viertmann told The Mandarin. She says the various optional arrangements are providing “tangible” benefits to the organisation.

Unscheduled absences are down by 1.2 days per full-time equivalent staff member over the last three years, 82% of staff are satisfied with their access to flexible work options, and 32% have formal teleworking arrangements in place.


“This award is recognition of the work put in by many teams across the ABS to promote and support flexible work,” Viertmann said by email.

“In our ten offices across Australia, our expectation is that managers say ‘yes’ to reasonable flexible work requests from employees. Our dedicated program, ABS Flex Works, includes arrangements such as teleworking, part time hours, compressed work weeks and job sharing.

“Underpinning Flex Works are technology, policies, e-learning, support materials and formal agreements that are regularly promoted to staff. Many ABS leaders and senior managers model flexible work and share their stories and benefits with ABS staff.”

Meanwhile, the opposition and the public sector union are increasingly concerned about reductions in the ABS workforce, which recently lost about 80 more positions in 12 months, not including extra staff brought in to work on running the marriage law survey.

If elected, Labor has promised to fund a new survey on How Australians use their time, last done in 2006. Interestingly, this informs debate about some of the same issues that flexible work arrangements are meant to address.

“The information is used to examine how people allocate time to activities such as paid and unpaid work and to analyse such issues as gender equality, care giving and balancing family and paid work responsibilities,” the ABS explained last time around.

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