A NSW Government website
Public Service Commission

Data sources, conventions and limitations

Chapter 13

About this report

This report contains analysis of NSW public sector Workforce Profile data; contingent labour data from NSW Procurement; and available NSW public sector recruitment data, primarily sourced from the I work for NSW e-recruitment system. 

The Workforce Profile is a census of NSW public sector employees conducted by the NSW Public Service Commission. It collects various data items used to inform workforce management and planning, including the size, composition, location and demographics of the workforce. Participation is mandatory for all NSW government sector agencies and State owned corporations, and optional for NSW public sector agencies that are external to the government sector.

Data conventions

Numbers have been rounded to zero decimal places, and percentages to one decimal place. Consequently, percentages less than 0.04% will be reported as 0.0% after rounding. Rounding may also mean that individual items within a table do not sum to the corresponding total.

Census date

The census date for Workforce Profile data was 25 June 2020; for recruitment data it was September 2020; and for contingent labour data it was 30 June 2020.

Data limitations

The following data limitations are noted:

  1. Data accuracy may be affected by omissions, inaccuracies or miscoded data provided by contributing agencies.
  2. There may be differences in totals in some tables compared to summary figures, due to rounding, or missing, withdrawn or invalid data. Variations between the data in this document and that published by individual agencies may differ due to differences in timing, data definitions and methodologies employed.
  3. All data represent a ‘snapshot’ at slightly different points in time and are subject to revision. Workforce Profile data include all data submitted and verified as at 26 November 2020, recruitment data (I work for NSW data) as at 22 October 2020, and contingent labour as supplied by NSW Procurement for the 2019–20 financial year.

Regional reference table

The regions presented in this report are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics Statistical Areas Level 4 classification.

Region   ABS Statistical Areas Level 4
Metro Sydney East Sydney – City and Inner South
Sydney – Eastern Suburbs
Sydney – Inner South West
Sydney – Inner West
Sydney – North Sydney and Hornsby
Sydney – Northern Beaches
Sydney – Ryde
Sydney – Sutherland
Metro Sydney West Sydney – Baulkham Hills and Hawkesbury
Sydney – Blacktown
Sydney – Outer South West
Sydney – Outer West and Blue Mountains
Sydney – Parramatta
Sydney – South West
Region ABS Statistical Areas Level 4
Capital Region Capital Region
Central Coast Central Coast
Central West Central West
Coffs Harbour – Grafton Coffs Harbour – Grafton
Far West and Orana Far West and Orana
Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle Hunter Valley excluding Newcastle
Illawarra Illawarra
Mid North Coast Mid North Coast
Murray Murray
New England and North West New England and North West
Newcastle and Lake Macquarie Newcastle and Lake Macquarie
Richmond – Tweed Richmond – Tweed
Riverina Riverina
Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven Southern Highlands and Shoalhaven


The glossary defines the terminology used in this report.

Term Business definition
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees Employees who identify as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent and who are accepted as such by the community in which they live.
Annual reference period The annual reference period starts on the day following the last pay date of the previous financial year and ends on the last pay date of the current financial year. 
Annual remuneration  The annual salary or salary package that an employee would receive if they worked full time. It excludes overtime, allowances and lump sum payments. It is different to actual earnings, which are affected by factors such as part-time work, overtime, allowances and lump sum payments. 

Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO ABS Cat. No. 1220.0). ANZSCO is a skill-based classification used to classify all occupations and jobs in the Australian and New Zealand labour markets.

ANZSCO has five hierarchical levels: major group, sub-major group, minor group, unit group and occupation. Occupations are the most detailed level of classification. They are grouped to form unit groups, which in turn are grouped into minor groups. Minor groups are aggregated to form sub-major groups, which in turn are aggregated at the highest level to form major groups.

ANZSCO major group

ANZSCO organises occupations into progressively larger groups based on their similarities in terms of skill level and specialisation. The ‘major group’ level provides only a broad indication of skill. 

Major groups are:

  • the broadest level of ANZSCO
  • formed using a combination of skill level and specialisation to create groups that are meaningful and useful for most (statistical and administrative) purposes.
ANZSCO minor group ANZSCO minor groups are:
  • subdivisions of the ‘sub-major group’ classification
  • mainly distinguished from other minor groups in the same sub-major group based on skill specialisation.
Census date The last pay date of the annual reference period.
Census period The last pay fortnight of the annual reference period. 
Commuting ratio (out to in) The number of employees who commute out of a region to another region for work compared to the number of employees travelling into the same region for work. For example, the Illawarra region has a commuting ratio of 2.4 in 2019, which means 2.4 workers commute out of the region for every worker commuting in.
Completed applications The number of applications for ‘open’ or ‘filled’ I work for NSW requisitions for which the latest application completion date is in the reference period.
Diversity  Workforce diversity initiatives in the government sector aim to build a workforce that reflects the diversity of the wider community. Under the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act), diversity groups include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, women, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and people with disability. The GSE Act also provides for a broader definition of diversity, including mature workers, young people and carers.
Diversity estimate

Diversity estimates are calculated if the diversity response rate threshold of 65% is met. Where response rates are below the threshold, actual rates are reported.

The estimate is calculated by taking the number of diversity group members, divided by the number of respondents to at least one diversity question in any given year, and then multiplying by the total number of employees. For this reason, estimates are always higher than actual rates.

Diversity response rate Calculated by taking the number of employees who identify as belonging to any combination of diversity group classification, including ‘English not first language spoken’, ‘racial, ethnic, ethno-religious minority group’, ‘disability’ and ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’, and dividing by the total number of employees.
Employment arrangement A non-casual employee’s work arrangement, classified as either full time or part time.
Employment categories Based on a worker’s employment contract with an agency. Categories include:
  • ongoing – employed on a continuing basis to perform ongoing functions
  • temporary – non-casual employees who do not have ongoing conditions of employment or individual employment contracts, and who are employed for a specific period of time
  • casual – employees engaged to perform work ‘as required’ and who are paid at an hourly rate equal to the relevant classification of the position with a loading
  • executive – includes Public Service senior executives employed under contracts starting before the implementation of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act); senior executives employed under Division 4 of Part 4 of the GSE Act; and other public sector senior executives under contract arrangements, including NSW Health Service, Transport Service and NSW Police Force executives
  • contract – non-executive employees who are employed via a fixed-term individual contract; excludes contractors and consultants engaged on a fee-for-service basis 
  • other – all other employment categories, including cadets, trainees, apprentices, retained staff, sessional workers and statutory appointees.
External to government sector These are a small number of entities that are excluded from the definition of ‘government sector‘ by section 5 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013. In 2020 the exclusions were:
  • Audit Office 
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption
  • Judicial Commission
  • Judicial Officers
  • Parliament of NSW
Full-time employees Employees who usually work 35 hours or more a week. See ABS, Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (cat. no. 6102.0).
Full-time equivalent (FTE) workforce

A standardised way of describing the size of the workforce based on the total number of ordinary time paid hours worked (excluding overtime and unpaid work). ‘FTE workforce’ describes the total number of full-time employees required to account for all ordinary time paid hours worked. It is not a count of the number of employees. For example, two employees who both work half the standard number of full-time hours will together be counted as one FTE employee.

The FTE workforce can be measured during a period, such as the last pay period of the financial year (census period).

Since the same method of counting can be applied to each agency, FTE staffing figures provide the most accurate indication of resource levels within the NSW public sector.

Gender pay gap Defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development as the difference between the median salary of men and women relative to the median salary of men. Employee salary is the full-time base remuneration for the role, regardless of whether the employee is working part time or full time.
Government sector The government sector, as defined by the Government Sector Employment Act 2013, includes the Public Service, the Teaching Service, the NSW Health Service, the Transport Service, the NSW Police Force, and other Crown services such as the TAFE Commission.

The total number of employees at a given time. 

Employees with multiple periods of employment in a single agency during the year are counted only once by most agencies. However, the payroll systems used by some agencies do not link employment periods, so these agencies report each period of employment as a separate employee. Employees with periods of employment in different agencies during the year are counted as separate employees in each agency. In the health sector, this also applies to employees working in more than one area health service.

Headcounts include all employees who worked during a period, even if they only worked for one day. Total employees (headcount) figures and FTE figures are both reported because they provide different perspectives on the workforce. FTE translates the headcount figures into a proportion of the hours worked by an FTE staff member. For example, a person working one day per week would be counted as 1.0 under the headcount and 0.2 under FTE (that is, they work 20% of the time that a full-time employee works). Headcount figures therefore provide a picture of how many people were employed during the period, whereas FTE is a more accurate indicator of resource levels.

Job advertisements The number of ‘open’ and ‘filled’ I work for NSW requisitions for which the latest application completion date is in the reference period.
Job mobility Changes in the employment status of an employee, including commencement in an agency, promotion to a higher level, transfer from one agency to another, and exit from the agency or public sector.
Language first spoken as a child The language the person first spoke as a child, as distinct from the preferred language or language usually spoken at home.
Median The middle value of a distribution, where half of the values are above and half are below. The median is often preferred over the mean in calculating the middle ground in a set of values as it is less sensitive to extreme values than the mean.
Non-casual employees All persons engaged to work in a NSW Government agency and paid via the agency’s payroll system, excluding employees working for an hourly rate (casual, sessional, seasonal and retained staff).
NSW employed persons The ABS defines employed persons as those aged 15 or over who, during the reference week: 
  • worked for one hour or more for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, in a job or business, or on a farm (comprising employees, employers and own account workers); or 
  • worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm (such as contributing family workers); or 
  • were employees who had a job but were not at work, and were: 
    • away from work for less than four weeks up to the end of the reference week; or 
    • away from work for more than four weeks up to the end of the reference week, and received pay for some or all of the four-week period to the end of the reference week; or 
    • away from work as a standard work or shift arrangement; or 
    • on strike or locked out; or 
    • on workers’ compensation and expected to return to their job; or
    • employers or own account workers who had a job, business or farm but were not at work.
NSW Health Service The NSW Health Service consists of those persons who are employed under Chapter 9 Part 1 of the Health Services Act 1997 by the NSW Government in the service of the Crown. 
NSW Police Force The NSW Police Force comprises the Police Commissioner, NSW Police Force senior executives, and all other police officers or non-executive administrative employees employed under the Police Act 1990
Ongoing employees Those employed on a continuing basis to perform ongoing functions.
Openings The number of available positions for ‘open’ and ‘filled’ I work for NSW requisitions where the latest application completion date is in the reference period and the number of openings was less than 99. This calculation excludes requisitions that were recorded as having unlimited openings.
Other Crown services Other NSW government sector entities that do not fall into one of the other listed services of the government sector.
Paid unscheduled absence The sum of hours of paid sick leave and paid carer’s leave hours taken during the reference period. This includes employees with a valid sick leave entitlement and annual FTE not missing.
Part-time employees Employed persons who usually work fewer than 35 hours a week (see ABS, Labour Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, cat. no. 6102.0.)
Person with disability A person who identifies as having disability – that is, having one or more of the following limitations or restrictions:
  • a long-term medical condition or ailment
  • speech difficulties in their native language
  • a disfigurement or deformity
  • a psychiatric condition
  • a head injury, stroke or any other brain damage
  • loss of sight or hearing
  • incomplete use of any part of their body
  • blackouts, fits or loss of consciousness
  • restriction in physical activities or physical work
  • slowness at learning or understanding
  • any other condition resulting in a restriction.
Public sector The public sector incorporates the government sector and other government agencies, including the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Audit Office of New South Wales, the Parliament of NSW, the Judicial Commission, and State owned corporations such as water and energy companies.
Public sector exit rate The number of employees who left the public sector during the year as a proportion of the average number of people employed during the year.
Public Service The Public Service includes those employed under Part 4 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 in the service of the Crown.
Senior Executive cohort Public Service Chief Executive Service, Senior Executive Service and award-based senior executives (senior officers and their equivalents), and senior executives employed under Division 4 of Part 4 of the Government Sector Employment Act 2013.
Senior leader Government sector employees with a salary equal to or higher than $165,750, who lead people and/or services. Excludes NSW Health Service roles of a specialist or technical nature with no leadership or managerial responsibilities, and Justice roles of a statutory or institutional character (for example judges and magistrates).
Separation rate The number of employees who left an agency during the year as a proportion of the average number of people employed during the year.
Special leave Paid leave for activities not regarded as being on duty, and not covered by other forms of leave. Special leave may be granted to employees where it is provided for and meets the purposes set out in relevant industrial instruments. 
State owned corporations A company for the time being specified in Schedule 1 or a corporation for the time being specified in Schedule 5 of the State Owned Corporations Act 1989.
Statistical Areas Level 4 (SA4) Geographical areas within an ABS geographical framework for the collection, analysis and release of regional data. They are the largest sub-state regions in the Australian Statistical Geography Standard, designed for the output of such data as the ABS Labour Force Survey data, which reflects labour markets within each state or territory. 
Successful applications The number of I work for NSW applications that have a hired date, for ‘open’ or ‘filled’ requisitions, for which the latest application completion date is in the reference period. 
Teaching Service The Teaching Service of NSW consists of persons employed under Part 4, Division 2 of the Teaching Service Act 1980, and persons employed by the NSW Government in the service of the Crown, except as provided by section 12 of the Teaching Service Act 1980
Temporary employees Non-casual employees who do not have ongoing conditions of employment, do not have individual employment contracts and are employed for a specific time period.
Tenure The length of employment within an agency.
Time to hire The average number of weeks from the latest application completion date to the hired date, for ‘open’ and ‘filled’ requisitions with one opening and for which the latest application completion date is in the reference period. 
Trainees, cadets and apprentices Staff members whose employment conditions require them to undergo a designated training program as part of their vocational development.
Transport Service The Transport Service consists of those persons employed under Part 7A of the Transport Administration Act 1988, by the NSW Government in the Service of the Crown. Persons employed in the Transport Service are not employed in the NSW Public Service.


Data downloads

Download an excel spreadsheet with additional data.