Circular 2006/7: Planning for influenza pandemic issues – APS employment issues

Last updated: 21 Dec 2006

This page is: archived

1. This circular provides information to Australian Public Service (APS) agencies on the range of powers available to them under the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) which may be of assistance in preparing for and responding to possible scenarios arising in the lead up to and during an influenza pandemic.

  • This circular is not intended to cover all powers or scenarios, nor does it address possible APS-wide approaches for employment arrangements should phase 6(b) be reached (i.e. multiple regions in Australia affected by an influenza pandemic, as described in the Commonwealth Government Action Plan for Influenza Pandemic).

2. This information has been developed in the context of other key documents relating to an influenza pandemic in Australia, including:

  • National Action Plan for Human Influenza Pandemic by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet;
  • Australian Health Management Plan for Pandemic Influenza 2006 by the Department of Health and Ageing;
  • Being Prepared for a Human Influenza Pandemic – A Business Continuity Guide for Australian Business by the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources; and
  • OHS preparedness for an Influenza Pandemic: a guide for employers, September 2006 by Comcare.

3. Through the PS Act, the Public Service Commissioner's Directions 1999 (Directions) and the Public Service Regulations 1999 (Regulations), agency heads have a range of employment powers to support their ability to effectively respond to the potential impacts of an influenza pandemic.

4. These powers range from the broad overarching employer power provided under section 20 of the PS Act, which provides that an APS agency head has, on behalf of the Commonwealth, all the rights, duties and powers of an employer in respect of APS employees in the Agency, to more specific provisions such as that an agency head may assign, or reassign, duties to an employee or direct an employee to attend a medical examination.

5. The PS Act also establishes a the APS Values and the APS Code of Conduct. APS employees are bound by the Code which provides, amongst other things, that:

  • an APS employee must comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by someone in the employee’s agency who has authority to give the direction; and
  • an APS employee must at all time behave in a way that upholds the APS Values and the integrity and good reputation of the APS.

6. Agency heads are bound by the Code in the same way as APS employees and also have obligations under the PS Act to uphold and promote the APS Values.

7. A summary listing of relevant powers under the PS Act is at Attachment A. A number of questions that agencies may have considered in developing their business continuity plans in response to possible scenarios which may arise in the lead up to and during an influenza pandemic are explored in Attachment B.

8. In using the powers available to them under the PS Act, agency heads also need to be mindful of the requirements of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (WR Act) and other legislation such as the Occupational Health and Safety (Commonwealth Employment) Act 1991. Questions relating to these Acts should be directed to the relevant central agencies. Note that the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Independent Contractors) Act 2006, which came into effect on 12 December 2006, has amended the WR Act to provide that an employer can stand down an employee without pay in the circumstances set out in the Note to Attachment A. As circumstances arise, further advice will be issued as necessary.

9. Questions on this circular should be directed, in the first instance, to agencies' central corporate areas with responsibility for developing agencies' business continuity plans. Agencies' central corporate areas with specific questions on this circular should contact the Commission. It may be appropriate for more complex or sensitive queries to be dealt with in writing.

10. Further circulars may be issued once any APS-wide approaches for employment arrangements are finalised which would operate in the event that phase 6(b) is reached.

 

Roger Tarlinton
Acting Group Manager
Policy Group

21 December 2006

Attachment A: Employer powers under the Public Service Act 1999 and subordinate legislation

The extracts below (in italics) and summaries highlight key provisions that agency heads can draw upon in preparing for and responding to scenarios that may arise during a possible influenza pandemic.

The use of any of these powers is subject to the requirements of the APS Values and APS Code of Conduct, the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and other relevant laws. The Policy Parameters for Agreement Making in the Australian Public Service (as issued by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations) may also impact on the use of some of these powers. Agency heads should also be mindful of the review of action rights of certain APS employees.

Sources: Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act)
Public Service Commissioner's Directions 1999 (Directions)
Public Service Regulations 1999 (Regulations)

Legislative provision Reference

Code of Conduct – compliance with lawful and reasonable directions

An APS employee must comply with any lawful and reasonable direction given by someone in the employee’s Agency who has authority to give the direction

PS Act - s.13(5)

Employer powers etc. of Agency Head

An Agency Head, on behalf of the Commonwealth, has all the rights, duties and powers of an employer in respect of APS employees in the Agency …

PS Act - s.20(1)

Direction to attend medical examination

  1. This regulation applies if an Agency Head believes that the state of health of an APS employee in the Agency:
    1. may be affecting the employee's work performance; or
    2. has caused, or may cause, the employee to have an extended absence from work; or
    3. may be a danger to the employee; or
    4. has caused, or may cause, the employee to be a danger to other employees or members of the public; or
    5. may be affecting the employee's standard of conduct.
  2. The Agency Head may, by written notice, direct the APS employee to:
    1. undergo a medical examination by a nominated medical practitioner for an assessment of the employee's fitness for duty; and
    2. give the Agency Head a medical report of the examination

PS Act - s.20(1)

Regulation 3.2

Engagement of APS employees

An Agency Head, on behalf of the Commonwealth, may engage persons as employees for the purposes of the Agency …

If the engagement is as an ongoing employee, then the requirements set out in chapter 4 of the Directions (and chapter 6 where the engagement is at a Senior Executive Service (SES) classification) must be met. Further information on the engagement of non-ongoing employees appears below.

PS Act - s.22(1)

Engagement of non-ongoing (non-SES) employees

The Regulations outline the circumstances in which an agency head may engage a person as a non-SES employee for a specified term or for the duration of a specified task and the arrangements for extending a period of specified term employment. Note: the Regulations should be read in conjunction with Direction 4.3 which outlines requirements where the period of engagement is expected to extend beyond 12 months – these requirements include that the job must be advertised in the Gazette and a competitive selection process undertaken.

PS Act - s.22

Regulations 3.5 & 3.6

Direction 4.3

Engagement of non-ongoing SES employees

The Regulations outline the circumstances in which an agency head may engage a person as an SES employee for a specified term which cannot exceed 5 years in total. Clause 6.3 of the Directions sets out in minimum requirements that must be met before a person is engaged as an SES employee.

PS Act - s.22

Regulation 3.4

Direction 4.3

Direction 6.3

Conditions of engagement - health clearance

Subsection 22(6) of the PS Act provides that the engagement of an APS employee may be made subject to conditions notified to the employee prior to the engagement, including a health clearance. The Regulations also provide as follows:

  1. While the engagement is subject to the condition, the Agency Head may, by written notice, direct the employee to:
    1. undergo a medical examination by a nominated medical practitioner for an assessment of the employee's fitness for duty; and
    2. give the Agency Head a medical report of the examination

PS Act - s.22(6)(e)

Regulation 3.1(2)

Agency Head determination on remuneration and terms and conditions

An Agency Head may from time to time determine in writing the remuneration and other terms and conditions of employment applying to an APS employee or employees in the Agency. A determination is of no effect to the extent that it would reduce the benefit to an employee of any individual term or condition applicable to the employee under the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard or an award, workplace agreement, pre‑reform certified agreement or pre‑reform AWA.

PS Act – s.24(1)

Assignment of duties

An Agency Head may from time to time determine the duties of an APS employee in an Agency, and the place or places at which the duties are to be performed.

PS Act - 25

Voluntary moves between Agencies

An Agency Head may enter into an agreement in writing with an APS employee for the employee to move to the Agency Head’s Agency from another Agency …(see below for more details)

PS Act - 26

Ongoing moves between Agencies - non-SES employees

An agency head and an ongoing non-SES employee can enter into a written arrangement for the APS employee to move to the agency head's agency. The move takes effect four weeks from the date on which the APS employee tells their pre-move agency, or on a date agreed between the APS employee and the pre- and post- move agencies.

PS Act – s.26

Regulation 3.9

Ongoing moves between Agencies - SES employees

An agency head and an ongoing SES employee can enter into a written arrangement for the employee to move to the agency head's agency. The agency head of the employee’s pre-move agency must be consulted on, and agree to, the move. The Commissioner must also be informed. The move takes effect four weeks from the date on which the employee tells their pre-move agency, or on a date agreed between the APS employee and the pre- and post- move agencies.

PS Act – s.26

Regulation 3.9

Direction 6.4

Other moves between Agencies - moves for specified periods

If a move between agencies is to be for a specified term only, then the pre-move agency head must approve the period of the move, in writing, before an APS employee enters into an agreement with the post-move agency. If the pre-move agency head did not approve the period, in writing, before the agreement was entered into then the agreement has effect as though it was an ongoing move.

Regulation 3.9A

Suspension

The regulations may make provision in relation to the suspension from duties of APS employees, with or without remuneration.

The Regulations provide as follows.

  1. An Agency Head may suspend an APS employee employed in the Agency from duties if the Agency Head believes on reasonable ground that:
    1. the employee has, or may have, breached the Code of Conduct; and
    2. the employee's suspension is in the public, or the Agency's, interest.
  2. The suspension may be with remuneration.
  3. If the suspension is to be without remuneration, the period without remuneration, is to be:
    1. not more that 30 days; or
    2. if exceptional circumstances apply - a longer period.
  4. The Agency Head must review the suspension at reasonable intervals.
  5. The Agency Head must immediately end the suspension if the Agency head no longer believes on reasonable grounds:
    1. that the APS employee has, or may have, breached the Code of Conduct; or
    2. that the employee's suspension is in the public, or the Agency's interest.
  6. The Agency Head must immediately end the suspension if a sanction has been imposed on the APS employee for the relevant breach of the Code of Conduct.
  7. In exercising powers under this regulation, the Agency Head must have due regard to procedural fairness unless the Agency Head is satisfied on reasonable grounds that, in the particular circumstances, it would not be appropriate.

PS Act - s.28

Regulation 3.10

Temporary assignment of duties (at a higher classification) to APS employees

The Directions set out the issues an agency head needs to consider before an APS employee is assigned to perform duties for a temporary period at a higher classification than the employee's classification

Direction 4.7

Compliance with Commonwealth occupational, health & safety legislation

The APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace.

In upholding and promoting the APS Value ... an Agency Head must put in place measures in the Agency directed at ensuring that ... (b) the Agency complies with Commonwealth occupational, health and safety legislation

PS Act – s.10(1)(j)

Direction 2.11(1)(b)

Note

Division 7 of Part 12 of the Workplace Relations Act 2006 (WR Act) provides that an employer may stand down an employee without pay if that employee cannot be usefully employed for a time because of a:

  • strike; or
  • breakdown of machinery; or
  • stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible (e.g. a natural disaster).

This is a default provision which only applies where a contract of employment or a relevant industrial instrument does not provide for a stand down in the above-mentioned circumstances.

  • However, if a stand down provision in a contract of employment or a industrial instrument requires a stand down to be authorised by a third party (e.g. the Australian Industrial Relations Commission), the default stand down provision in the WR Act applies.
  • If a stand down provision in a contract of employment or an industrial instrument provides for an employee to receive remuneration during a stand down, then this requirement will continue to have effect.

Employees stood down in accordance with the WR Act provision continue to accrue entitlements such as annual, personal and long service leave during the stand down period as the stand down period counts as service for all purposes.

The WR Act also includes certain remedies for unauthorised stand downs.

Attachment B: Issues for agencies in developing business continuity plans

The following information focuses on the requirements of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) and its subordinate legislation.

Individual agencies may have internal arrangements (e.g. in their workplace agreements) and policies which operate in addition to the requirements of the PS Act and which may impact on how the scenarios explored may need to be managed within the agency.

  • An example of such an internal policy or practice may be a 'requirement' that all opportunities for movement at level or temporary assignment at a higher level within an agency have to be internally advertised through a staff bulletin or noticeboard.

Agencies may need to review these arrangements to assess their suitability in circumstances where there is a severe shortage of staff and greater flexibility is necessary to move and engage employees at short notice.

1. What powers are available to temporarily move (assign) APS employees within an agency, including to a different location, to meet urgent requirements?

Under section 25 of the PS Act, an agency head may, from time to time, assign or re-assign duties to an employee within the agency and determine the location at which those duties can be performed. Such an assignment may be on an ongoing or temporary basis.

As with all powers under the PS Act, any action taken under section 25 should comply with the APS Values – notably, Value (i) which requires the establishment of workplace relations that value communication, consultation, co-operation and input from employees on matters that affect their workplace, and Value (j) which requires the APS to provide a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace are particularly relevant.

1.1 Assigning an APS employee to other duties at 'level'

Where an agency head needs to assign an APS employee to duties at the same classification level, an agency head is required under clause 2.3(1)(b) of the Directions to put in place measures to ensure that the assignment decision is made on the basis of an assessment of the employee’s work-related qualities and the work-related qualities required for efficient and effective organisational performance. This can be done without the need for an open competitive selection process and without notifying the job in the Gazette or an internal bulletin (or similar).

An assignment at level may be made on a temporary or ongoing basis. In the context of planning for an influenza pandemic, it is assumed that temporary assignment may be the preferred option as the goal will be to move healthy employees to perform essential functions for temporary periods while either other staff are on leave, or there is a higher demand for the service(s).

Good practice suggests that if an assignment has not been sought by the employee, the employee should be consulted on the move before a final decision is made. An assignment of different duties may raise significant issues for the employee concerned including impact on family responsibilities, occupational health and safety considerations (e.g. a person recovering from an injury), security considerations or a potential conflict of interest. These issues may significantly affect the employee's capacity, availability and enthusiasm to accept the new assignment or to perform the duties effectively. As far as possible agencies should work with employees in designing their business continuity plans so that any need for the temporary assignment of employees to other duties at level is fully understood before specific phases of an influenza pandemic are declared.

The extent of consultation and the degree to which an agency takes into account the needs of the employee must be balanced against the operational efficiency of the agency. Ultimately, while an agency head is required to act fairly and have regard to individual needs, the agency head has the prerogative to make the final decision regarding any assignment of duties, with limited review rights available to non-SES employees (see 1.5 below).

1.2 Assigning an APS employee to temporarily perform duties at a higher 'level'

Where an agency head needs to temporarily assign an APS employee to duties at a higher classification, clauses 2.3 and 4.7 of the Directions require that an agency head have in place measures to ensure that, in addition to the employee's work-related qualities, the following factors are considered:

  • the employee's efficiency;
  • the relative importance to the agency of the duties and other duties in the agency;
  • the length of the assignment;
  • the expected cost;
  • the need for career development opportunities.

While it would normally be considered good practice to advertise and conduct an open competitive selection process where a lengthy assignment of duties at a higher classification is being contemplated, such an assessment can be made without a formal selection process and without notifying the job in the gazette or an internal bulletin (or similar).

In the context of planning for an influenza pandemic, offering or directing employees to temporarily perform duties at a higher level may be an effective way of ensuring that essential functions are delivered. In developing and implementing business continuity plans, agencies might consider using any existing data bases of employee skills and interests to offer duties at a higher classification level quickly and with minimum delays should an influenza pandemic start to affect the operation of some work areas.

Many agencies have specific guidelines and requirements in their workplace agreements around the management and payment of temporary performance loadings (higher duties allowances). In planning for influenza pandemic, it is important to consider whether an agency’s current policies provide the flexibility that might be required to respond to the impacts of such an event.

1.3 Assigning an APS employee to temporarily perform duties at a lower 'level'

While it may be necessary for agency heads to require employees to perform duties at a lower classification level during the time of an influenza pandemic, agencies will need to consider carefully whether they wish this requirement to be reflected in the classification level of the employee.

An agency head cannot reduce an employee’s classification without the employee’s consent except in the circumstances outlined in subsection 23(4) of the PS Act (e.g. excess to requirements, as a sanction for a breach of the Code of Conduct, underperformance etc). Note that a reduction to a lower classification cannot be for a specified time; once reduced the normal merit promotion process would apply for an employee in respect of moving to a higher classification.

An employee can agree to move temporarily to a job at a lower classification level for a certain period, and this agreement could include being remunerated at the lower level. In this case, the formal classification of an employee remains the higher classification.

Clause 6.6 of the Directions sets out certain requirements relating to a decision to assign an SES employee to duties at a lower classification. It is suggested that agencies contact the Commission for specific advice where action to reduce the classification of an SES employee is being contemplated.

1.4 What if the duties that need to be performed are at another location?

An agency head can, under section 25 of the PS Act, determine the place or places at which the duties of an employee can be performed.

This provision gives an agency head flexibility to determine where an employee actually performs their work. An agency head could conceivably determine that an employee perform their duties at their normal workplace, at home, in a different office of the agency (but located within the same city or general area), in another agency’s premises in the same city or general area (noting that this would require some form of agreement between the agencies), or that the employee be required to relocate to premises located in another city or state.

The ability of an agency head to determine that an employee perform their duties at home is of particular relevance should social distancing principles be implemented during an influenza pandemic.

In considering whether the relocation of employees during an influenza pandemic is appropriate (or viable at the time of an influenza pandemic when travel may be restricted), or that a direction for employees to work from home is a viable option, agencies may need to ensure that their workplace agreements provide the flexibility to quickly implement such options. Equally, agencies should consider what resources are required to implement such options, including:

  • do employees have the technology to work from home (computers, internet access, telephones) and are these set up in a safe and secure way?
  • does the agency’s information technology lend itself to employees effectively working from home, another agency’s premises or from offices located in another city?
  • are there specific entitlements provided through agencies’ workplace agreements to employees who are required to work at home or move temporarily to another city or state/territory?

As can arise with some assignments to other duties, a relocation may raise significant issues for the employee concerned, including impact on family responsibilities, occupational health and safety or security considerations or a potential conflict of interest. These issues may significantly affect the employee's capacity, availability and enthusiasm to accept the new assignment or to perform the duties effectively.

The extent of consultation and the degree to which an agency takes into account the needs of the employee must be balanced against the operational efficiency of the agency. Ultimately, while an agency head is required to act fairly and have regard to individual needs, the agency head has the prerogative to make the final decision regarding any assignment of duties, with limited review rights available to non-SES employees (see 1.5 below).

1.5 What rights of review does an employee have in the above circumstances?

In most circumstances, action under section 25 to assign duties to an employee is specifically excluded from the review of actions provisions of the PS Act and Regulations. However, a non-SES employee may lodge a review of action where the assignment of duties involves:

  • a reduction in classification;
  • a relocation to another place (i.e. a move that requires an employee to move away from their usual place of residence in order to perform the duties); or
  • asking an employee to perform duties that they cannot be reasonably be expected to perform.

Generally, under the review of action provisions, a non-SES employee may lodge an initial request for a review of action with their agency and, if dissatisfied with the outcome of that review, may request that the matter be referred to the Merit Protection Commissioner. As part of their business continuity planning, agencies should consider how internal review processes will be managed in a time of potentially reduced staffing.

2. What powers are available to temporarily move APS employees between agencies (including to a different location)?

Agency heads do not have the power to either unilaterally, or bilaterally with another agency head, temporarily move an APS employee to another agency. The movement of an employee between agencies, except in circumstances associated with a Machinery of Government change (section 72 of the PS Act) or where the Public Service Commissioner compulsorily moves an excess employee (as provided under section 27 of the PS Act), can only occur with the voluntary agreement of the APS employee.

The usual mechanism for moving staff between agencies on an ongoing or temporary basis is section 26 of the PS Act (with section 25 providing the basis for the gaining agency head to assign duties to the employee once they commence with the new agency). It provides that an agency head may enter into an agreement in writing with an APS employee for the employee to move to the Agency Head’s agency from another Agency. The provision assumes that the individual employee has applied for and has agreed to the move taking place.

Some agencies may be in a position to set up mechanisms, as part of their influenza pandemic business continuity planning, to enable the streamlined temporary movement of APS employees to ensure the delivery of essential services during an influenza pandemic. Such mechanisms, while making the availability of temporary movement opportunities more readily known, still require the active consent of the APS employee before any movement can occur.

Under section 26, the gaining agency head can enter into a written agreement with an employee from another agency for the employee to move to that agency. Where the move is a temporary move, regulation 3.9A provides that the employee must seek the written approval of his/her current agency head before any agreement can be finalised. Each agency should have in place procedures which an employee is to follow to seek the necessary agreement.

  • If the current agency head does not agree to the move, the gaining agency head and/or the employee may decide not to proceed with the movement.
  • Alternatively, it is open for the gaining agency head and the employee to proceed with the move which will be regarded as an ongoing move with no right of return to the original agency.

As temporary movements do not involve a promotion (as defined under clause 4.6 of the Directions), there is no requirement for the employment opportunity to be notified in the Gazette, or for there to be an open competitive selection process to enable the temporary move to occur. Existing agency-specific policies may impose additional requirements and as noted previously, agencies need to consider whether their existing guidelines and policies limit their ability to respond to staffing needs in a time of crisis. In addition agencies need to remember that:

  • if the associated temporary assignment of duties is to duties of a similar or lower classification, an agency head must put in place measures to ensure that a temporary assignment decision is made on the basis of an assessment of a person's work-related qualities and the work-related qualities required for efficient and effective organisational performance (Direction 2.3); or
  • if the temporary assignment of duties is to duties of a higher classification, Direction 4.7 provides that the agency head must also have in place measures to ensure that the following additional factors are considered:
  • the ongoing employee's efficiency;
  • the relative importance to the agency of the duties and other duties in the agency;
  • the length of the assignment;
  • the expected cost;
  • the need for career development opportunities.

In considering the viability of using the temporary movement of APS employees between agencies as a mechanism for responding to staffing shortages during an influenza pandemic agencies may wish to consider:

  • how quickly such staff can become operational - both in a technology sense and in a skills/knowledge sense?
  • is it possible to set up skills databases in agencies so that agencies delivering essential government services can access these quickly and approach relevantly trained employees in agencies/areas not delivering essential services?
  • how can streamlined arrangements be facilitated for the transfer of employee records in a time of reduced resources?
  • how flexible are the agency’s remuneration and conditions policies in setting remuneration and conditions for employees who may be coming from a range of different APS agencies on a temporary basis?

3. What powers are available to agencies to enable them to engage persons quickly to meet short term needs?

Agency heads may, on behalf of the Commonwealth, under section 22 of the PS Act, engage a person as an ongoing employee; as a non-ongoing employee for a specified term or for the duration of a specified task; or as a non-ongoing employee for duties that are irregular or intermittent.

  • Note that this advice is dealing with the engagement of persons under the PS Act and not in other circumstances (e.g. contractors or consultants).
  • There may be circumstances where, because of issues associated with the pandemic, agencies need to recruit extra staff on a non-ongoing basis – for example to cover significant staff absences and/or to meet a temporary increase in the agency’s workload. Most of these situations could be anticipated to fall into the ‘specified term' category of employment.
  • The circumstances in which a person can be engaged as a non-ongoing employee (at a non-SES classificiation level), including the maximum initial periods of engagement and extensions of those engagements, are set out in Regulation 3.5 and 3.6. Generally, the maximum initial period of engagement is 18 months with the total period of employment not to exceed 3 years.

The PS Act requires that all employment decisions be based on merit (s.10(1)). In applying this requirement to decisions to engage persons (at a non-SES level) for a specified term, the steps that an agency will need to follow will vary depending on the length (or estimated length) of the engagement and any operational requirements of the agency.

  • Where the proposed engagement is for a period of less than 12 months, there is no requirement to notify the particular employment opportunity in the Gazette. It would be generally expected that most non-ongoing recruitment in response to the impacts of influenza pandemic would be for periods under twelve months. Agencies must, however, still comply with the APS Value that requires reasonable access for eligible members of the community. This means, for example, that if an agency has advertised to establish a register of non-ongoing employees, they may use this register as the basis for selecting persons for such non-ongoing engagements. Agencies might refresh the register more often during a pandemic, depending on its impact. The selection process may range from an examination of available information (e.g. ‘CV’ or application) to a full selection process using a selection panel (noting that the latter may not be a viable option during an influenza pandemic).

Where a specified term vacancy is to last for more than 12 months, clause 4.3 of the Directions requires that the employment opportunity must be advertised in the Gazette as open to all eligible members of the community and that a competitive merit selection process must be undertaken in accordance with subsection 10(2) of the PS Act. Further, if a specified term employment opportunity that was originally filled for a period of not more than 12 months extends beyond 12 months, the employee’s engagement can only be extended if the original employment opportunity was notified in the Gazette (clause 4.5 of the Directions).

  • Note that where it is proposed to engage a person as a non-ongoing employee at an SES classification, chapter 6 of the Directions also applies. It is suggested that agencies contact the APS Commission for specific advice on the engagement of non-ongoing SES employees.
  • Agency heads can impose conditions on the engagement of a non-ongoing employee (e.g. probation, health, security clearance etc) and a person who is engaged as an employee must be an Australian citizen unless the agency head considers it appropriate to engage a non-citizen. Agency heads may need to consider the viability of imposing some conditions during an influenza pandemic as some of the resources required to undertake certain checks may not be available - if the checks are considered essential then agencies may need to consider either halting any recruitment or engaging only employees who have previously worked for the agency and/or for whom records of pre-existing checks are available.
  • As with all decisions made under the PS Act or Regulations about the engagement of an APS employee, the person making the decision must do so without patronage or favouritism (section 17).

Australian Public Service Commission

December 2006