National

Outsourcing an increasing concern for female public servants: CPSU survey

Only half of female federal public service employees feel secure or very secure in their job, with restructuring, budget cuts and outsourcing the major reasons for feeling insecure, a new survey shows.

The Community and Public Sector Union's biennial What Women Want survey has been launched on Thursday, with more than 5000 women across the federal, ACT and Northern Territory public sectors quizzed on their job satisfaction, access to flexible working arrangements and bullying and harassment.

Women in the public service report high rates of feeling insecure in their work. Photo: Alamy

The 2017 survey continues trends from the 2015 and 2013 surveys, with women reporting that they are working longer hours and are increasingly being contacted outside work hours with work matters. Of the women surveyed, 68.7 per cent of women working full time reported working overtime, with most women who worked overtime reporting working between one and 10 hours. Just over half of those who reported working overtime said they didn't get paid for those hours.

Of the women who reported feeling insecure in their work (24.8 per cent), 63 per cent said organisational restructuring was the major reason for their concern, a similar level to 2015. Some 42.4 per cent said budget cuts were the reason for their concern, while those listing outsourcing as a concern rose from 22.3 per cent in 2015 to 34.1 per cent in 2017. 

The survey, published to coincide with International Women's Day, found that 72.8 per cent of women were satisfied with their access to flexible working arrangements in order to balance family responsibilities, but 49.9 per cent said that taking time out of work for family reasons would disadvantage their career prospects.

While just more than half (51.9 per cent) of those surveyed said they were happy with their work-life balance, just 13.2 per cent agreed with the statement "it is easy for all employees to combine career and family".

Of those surveyed, 53 per cent reported being satisfied with what they were paid, down from 71 per cent in 2013, a drop which the union attributes to protracted workplace bargaining negotiations.

CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said "working women deserve fair workplaces and jobs that offer reasonable flexibility and allow them to live balanced lives".

"But for years, the Turnbull Government has used bargaining in the Commonwealth public sector to stand in the way of family-friendly policies and work/life balance for women. Now they've released their new bargaining policy and it's just as unfriendly as the old one," she said.

A quarter of women reported experiencing bullying or harassment in the past 12 months, with less than half of those saying they had reported the incident.

One in five women reported experiencing discrimination in the past 12 months, and only 34.3 per cent of those surveyed said they agreed that complaints about discrimination are dealt with quickly and appropriately by management.