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QLD Corrective Services  maintains control and safe prisons with Workforce Management from ComOps

2500 Staff - 11 Correctional Centres

The Queensland Corrections Services (QCS) – part of the Department of Community Safety (DCS) - in partnership with other key criminal justice agencies, is committed to the critical role of community safety and crime prevention through the humane containment, supervision and rehabilitation of offenders. 

QCS operates correctional centres, district offices and reporting centres, providing security services as well as running the Escort Security Centre which provides transportation services for prisoners.  It’s a 24/7 operation that operates on annualised hours and involves a highly unionised workforce.

Up until 1999 the prisons employed a manual spreadsheet system at individual locations. The rostering officers were individually responsible for building rosters that ensured union requirements were met, annualised hours reconciled and unscheduled leave filled. There was no visibility across locations and in the Escort Security Centre, where the rosters are completely demand driven, filling rosters was extremely arduous and time-consuming.

New Shifts, New Rosters
The DCS chose to introduce a single rostering solution across all sites while at the same time introducing a new shift pattern.  They wanted a system that would automate much of the work involved in staff rostering and could take into account the union requirements plus any other operational rules required by each prison or facility.

According to Peter Hollis, Manager -Occupational, Health and Safety at DCS, “We wanted greater control while taking much of the time-consuming work out of the rosters. We also needed to meet union requirements as our rosters are voted on by staff to ensure that they are in accordance with our union agreement.” 

The product chosen to achieve all this was, a workforce management solution from ComOps specifically designed to help control labour costs, automate roster administration and adhere to employment conditions. 

ComOps  is used to roster the departments 2500+ custodial officers who are responsible for managing the State’s 11 correctional centres, incorporating a variety of high and low-security facilities, housing over 5000 prisoners.

Future Savings
With tight economic conditions currently constraining most Queensland government 

departments, QCS believe that the ComOps system holds the key to further savings and efficiencies for them while also providing fair and equitable rosters. 

The first cost saving item on the agenda for QCS is the streamlining of their time sheeting and payroll processes. Currently, QCS spends thousands of dollars in employee and administration fees every fortnight collecting and batching the time sheets of each of their 2500 custodial officers. They must then make arrangements to have these timesheets sent to Queensland Shared Services (QSS) for processing and payroll. For some correctional centres, this can mean special arrangements with local post offices or sending over 40 emails every fortnight because the attachments are so large.

The addition of the Time and Attendance module from ComOps will automate this process, eliminating the need for manual timesheets; it will make integration to the DCS payroll system possible and eliminate the huge drain on time and resources that currently takes place.

QCS are also keenly investigating ComOps’s IVR (integrated voice control) and employee self-service modules. These will see significant cost savings for the entire department but will be particularly beneficial for the unpredictable nature of the escort service. Here, demand is driven purely by scheduled court appearances, which means that the number of required custodial officers can vary from anywhere between 10 and 60 officers every week.

Whilst the escort service does have a small number of officers employed on a casual basis, the majority of these shifts are filled by full-time custodial officers working overtime shifts. This means that there are employees within the department who currently spend 4 days of their week simply phoning officers to request them for overtime. Both IVR and self-service modules will enable the department to automatically phone available and eligible officers to make requests for overtime on a best person, best cost basis and officers will be able to automatically reply or log into the self-service system at a time that suits them to view and apply for available overtime shifts. This will result in much greater efficiency and reductions in administration costs for the department. 

Lastly, the issue of safety and fatigue is also foremost for QCS. The current shift pattern is not necessarily conducive to helping reduce fatigue levels in officers and so the introduction of ComOps’s fatigue risk management module will allow QCS to take fatigue scores into account when rostering, lowering their exposure to risk and litigation as well as enabling them to model, cost and implement more complex alternatives that satisfy the unions, employees and management.