Circular 2015/3: Amendments to the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013 (2015 Measures No.1)

Last updated: 06 Jul 2015

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  1. This circular is to advise agencies of amendments to the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013 (the Commissioner's Directions) that are effective from 1 July 2015.
  2. The Commissioner's Directions have been amended to:
    • remove requirements related to the staffing arrangements for Australian Public Service (APS) recruitment; and
    • remove unnecessary detail and streamline content.

Removal of requirements related to the staffing arrangements

  1. The 2015–16 Budget announced that the staffing arrangements for APS recruitment would cease from 1 July 2015 to allow APS agencies to notify vacancies as open to all eligible members of the community without the approval of the Australian Public Service Commissioner (the Commissioner). The policy on staffing arrangements for the APS applies from 1 July 2015.
  2. To give effect to the removal of the staffing arrangements, clause 2.9A of the Commissioner's Directions has been repealed. This removes:
    • the requirement for an Agency Head to notify vacancies in the Public Service Gazette as open only to APS employees; and
    • the requirement for an Agency Head to seek the Commissioner's approval to notify a vacancy to all eligible members of the community.
  3. Consequential amendments have also been made to subclauses 2.8(1), 2.9(1), 2.9(1)(d), 2.15(1), 2.16(1), 2.17A(1) to reflect the changes and omit references to clause 2.9A.

Transitional arrangements for vacancies notified prior to 1 July 2015

  1. Transitional arrangements for vacancies notified prior to 1 July 2015 are provided at clause 9.4 of the Commissioner's Directions.
  2. Vacancies that were notified before 1 July 2015 in accordance with clause 2.9A may continue; however, only those applicants who were eligible at the time of notification can be considered.
  3. Where a vacancy was notified as open only to APS employees, the Agency Head may choose to re-notify the vacancy as open to eligible members of the community. If this occurs, all applicants to the original process should be automatically considered in the new process, or should be given the opportunity to re-apply.   

Discretionary provision to require Agency Heads to gain the Commissioner's approval to notify vacancies

  1. A discretionary provision has been introduced at subclause 2.9(2) to allow the Commissioner, by notice in writing, to require an Agency Head to gain the Commissioner's approval to notify a vacancy or class of vacancies in the Public Service Gazette. This provision will enable the Commissioner to take action, when necessary, to ensure that the size of the public service can be maintained at appropriate levels.
  2. The Commission will consult with relevant agencies before taking action under this provision. The policy on staffing arrangements in the APS makes clear that each Agency Head is responsible for ensuring that their staffing levels remain consistent with the average staffing level estimates reported through the budget process. Accordingly, use of this discretionary provision is expected to be rare.

Other amendments

  1. Other amendments to the Commissioner's Directions provide greater flexibility to agencies in managing recruitment activity. These are set out below.
  2. Amendments that do not impact on agencies' processes or operations include:
    • simplifying the Chapter overviews and removing Part overviews; and
    • removing unnecessary provisions that replicated parts of the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act) and other legislation.

2.9(1)(c) Notifying a vacancy with a closing date of less than seven calendar days

  1. From 1 July 2015, an Agency Head will no longer need the approval of the Commissioner to notify a vacancy with a closing date of less than seven calendar days.
  2. In making a decision to notify a vacancy with a closing date of less than seven days, an Agency Head must have due regard to his or her obligations to uphold the merit principle, which requires that eligible members of the community are given a reasonable opportunity to apply for APS jobs.

2.9(2) Notification of SES vacancies—external advertising

  1. Subclause 2.9(2) has been repealed. This subclause required that SES vacancies must be notified externally to the Public Service Gazette, for example on a recruitment website.
  2. Advertising vacancies in external media is at the discretion of the Agency Head, subject to any relevant Government policies on advertising.
  3. In deciding whether to advertise a vacancy in external media, Agency Heads should consider advertising options that will reach the appropriate target audience and attract the best available person for the position.

2.9(3) Restricting applications to APS employees only

  1. Agency Heads may decide, for reasons of cost or operational efficiency, that a vacancy—other than a vacancy at SES, APS 1 or training classifications—should be filled by a person who is already an APS employee. From 1 July 2015, Agency Heads will no longer need the Commissioner's agreement to notify a vacancy as restricted to APS employees.
  2. Vacancies at SES, APS 1 and training classification levels must be notified as open to all eligible members of the community.
  3. In deciding whether to notify a vacancy as open only to APS employees, Agency Heads must have due regard to their obligations to uphold the merit principle, which requires that all eligible members of the community are given a reasonable opportunity to apply for APS jobs.

2.10 Additional requirements for SES engagement or promotion decisions

  1. Agency Heads will no longer need to obtain the Commissioner's endorsement of the Commissioner's representative's certification of a selection process that results in a decision to engage or promote a person as an SES employee.
  2. The requirement for the Commissioner or a representative of the Commissioner to be a full participant in the selection process remains. At the end of the selection process, the Commissioner's representative must still certify that the selection process complied with the PS Actand the Directions. The representative's certificate should be provided to the delegate with the selection documentation.
  3. Guidance on the role of the Commissioner's representatives can be found in the SES Selection, Mobility and Separation Guide.

2.26 Assignment from a non-SES classification to SES classification

  1. Clause 2.26 has been repealed. This clause allowed an Agency Head to assign an employee at a SES-equivalent classification (for example, Medical Officer Class 5) a SES classification, provided that it was in the same classification group. However, this could occur only with the agreement of the Commissioner. Column 1 of Schedule 1 of the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 (the Rules) provides for classification groups.
  2. The Ruleswill continue to provide for the assignment of classifications, including SES classifications.

Chapter 3—Workplace diversity

  1. Chapter 3 of the Commissioner's Directions has been repealed. Chapter 3 expanded on existing requirements for workplace diversity, including the requirement for Agency Heads to uphold the APS Employment Principles and the requirement to establish workplace diversity programs, pursuant to sections 12 and 18 of the PS Act, respectively. The requirements of the PS Act remain.

Chapter 5—Safe workplaces

  1. Chapter 5 of the Commissioner's Directions, which set out requirements related to safe workplaces, has been repealed. Agency Heads and employees continue to be subject to the relevant work health and safety legislation, including the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Further information

  1. Information on the changes to the Commissioner's Directions and on this circular can be obtained from the Commission's Staffing Policy team on 02 6202 3857 or by email to staffingpolicy@apsc.gov.au.

Lucy Poole
A/g Group Manager, Employment Policy
Australian Public Service Commission
July 2015