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Public servants' wages stagnate, but still rise faster than other workers'

Federal public servants' salaries are stagnating, though their wages still rose slightly faster than other Australian workers' last year.

Median base pay in the federal bureaucracy grew by 3 per cent in 2013, the second-smallest increase in a decade.

However, most public servants face bleaker prospects this year: enterprise agreements expire next month, wage negotiations are well behind schedule and the Abbott government has all but ruled out back pay.

The typical federal bureaucrat in Canberra, an executive level 1 employee, had an annual salary of $108,013 in December, plus $19,055 in superannuation, vehicle allowances and other benefits.

The median salary of APS6 officers, the second-largest cohort of staff in the ACT, was $86,844, plus $15,005 in benefits.

Across government, junior staff fared marginally worse than their managers: median salaries within the senior executive service rose 3.8 per cent compared with 2.9 per cent for non-SES officers.

Yet the Bureau of Statistics suggests most public servants received higher raises than other workers: the national private sector wage index rose just 2.5 per cent over the same period.

The sharpest increase was reserved for graduates: their median base pay rose 6.9 per cent to $60,871, though the Public Service Commission attributed this shift to a single, large, relatively low-paying agency, which employed fewer graduate staff last year.

The commission also noted that graduates, from one year to the next, "are not the same employees - that is, individual graduates did not receive a 6.9 per cent increase in salary".

The other significant increase was awarded to band 3 senior executives - deputy secretaries - whose median salaries rose by 6 per cent to $300,000. Lower-level senior executives - bands 1 and 2 - had base pay rises of 3.7 and 3.9 per cent respectively.

The commission said a lack of new jobs and promotion opportunities meant public servants were staying in their existing jobs longer, and were more likely "to have reached the top of the salary scale for their classification".

The latest remuneration data highlights the vast gaps in pay between some public servants who are employed at nominally the same level.

APS6 staff, for example, had base salaries as low $61,989 and as high as $119,266 in December, while EL1 officers earned as little as $70,594 and as much as $275,669.

Earlier this year, Public Service Minister Eric Abetz ruled out trying to centralise government wage deals or even out pay differences, saying "the one-size-fits-all approach does not necessarily suit the huge variety of agencies that we have".

22 comments so far

  • What benifits to APS6

    Commenter
    Hardarse
    Date and time
    June 16, 2014, 12:18PM
    • Typical EL1 with vehicle allowances???? EL1 earning up $275,669???

      What department is this............

      Commenter
      gg
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 12:46PM
      • Almost certainly the Australian Office of Financial Management, which offers far higher salaries than all other government agencies.

        Commenter
        Markus Mannheim
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        June 16, 2014, 5:39PM
    • It's recognition for the hard work that PS have to endure.

      Commenter
      PS
      Date and time
      June 16, 2014, 1:06PM
      • "vehicle allowances and other benefits" not sure what these are!

        Commenter
        Rob EL1
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        June 16, 2014, 1:30PM
        • Good work -- they always earned too much and seemingly do too little. A friend of mine was retrenched from public service and got a huge payout, over $300,000 plus of course her generous super entitlements - she was going to retire anyway the next year. She is now back on contract work, when she feels lilke it. Feeling a little bit cheesed as she laughs about it. Not jealous or anything!!!!

          Commenter
          louie
          Location
          sydney
          Date and time
          June 16, 2014, 2:00PM
          • louie, so your friend received a redundancy payout of over $300,000. APS redundancies are a maximum of 48 weeks salary. That would mean that your friend was on a salary of over $325,00 per year. This means that either your friend was a Band 3 SES or you are being economical with the truth?

            Care to tell us which one?

            Commenter
            Sydneyite
            Date and time
            June 17, 2014, 6:12AM
        • The 'typical' EL1 has a vehicle allowance. Really?

          Commenter
          Jake
          Date and time
          June 16, 2014, 2:33PM
          • No, the $19,055 in "other" remuneration (non-salary remuneration) received by the median EL1 was mostly super.

            But a small number of EL1s receive a vehicle allowance. Here's a list of some of the "other" benefits received by a significant minority of EL1s: motor vehicle parking; personal benefits; performance bonus; productivity bonus; sign-on bonus; whole-of-agency performance bonus; additional duties allowance; hours of duty allowance; geographic allowance; disability allowance; and health and lifestyle allowance.

            Commenter
            Markus Mannheim
            Location
            Canberra
            Date and time
            June 16, 2014, 5:45PM
          • Wow thanks Markus,

            You have just proven the Public Service workers receive entitlements well out of the reach of ordinary award wage workers. Appreciate your input, however I am now convinced any cuts to non front line public services are very much needed as it appears that the PS has very much bloated to an out of control level!!

            Commenter
            Trimming the Fat
            Date and time
            June 17, 2014, 9:29AM

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