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Circular 2003/8 - Temporary assignments and temporary movements of staff

The purpose of this Circular is to provide advice on:

  • the temporary assignment of staff within an agency in accordance with section 25 of the Public Service Act 1999 (the PS Act)
  • the temporary movement of staff between agencies in accordance with sections 25 and 26 of the PS Act, which will also involve a temporary assignment of duties.

2. The circular is being issued following a large number of enquiries received by the Commission in relation to these matters.

Advertising of temporary assignment opportunities

3. There is no requirement under the PS Act or subordinate legislation for opportunities for temporary assignment (whether to a higher level or not) to be advertised in any forum. Where an agency makes a commitment in its Certified Agreement to advertise such opportunities, the agency is bound to comply with any stated requirements.

Selection of staff for temporary movement opportunities

4. The PS Act requires that there is no patronage or favouritism in selection decisions. The Commissioner's Directions provide that the minimum requirement for temporarily assigning duties to an employee is that the decision is made on the basis of an assessment of the person's work-related qualities and the work-related qualities required for efficient and effective organisational performance (Commissioner's Direction 2.3).

5. There is also an obligation on Agency Heads and all APS employees to act in accordance with the APS Values. In this context, Agency Heads need to ensure that:

  • employment decisions are based on merit in accordance with Commissioner's Direction 2.3
  • the APS provides a workplace which is free from discrimination
  • the APS provides a fair, flexible, safe and rewarding workplace
  • the APS is a career-based service.

6. When deciding whether to temporarily assign duties of a higher classification, an Agency Head must also consider:

  • the efficiency of the employee
  • the relative importance to the Agency of the duties to be performed at the higher classification and the other duties to be performed in the Agency
  • the length of the period in which the employee is to perform duties at the higher classification
  • the expected cost of the employee performing duties at the higher classification
  • the need for APS employees to be given the opportunity to gain experience in performing duties at a higher classification.

Temporary assignment within an agency

7. Where a temporary assignment is within the employee's current agency, the Agency Head has sole discretion over whether or not to assign duties on a temporary basis and the date of effect-the Regulations covering the date of effect of temporary movements do not apply to temporary assignments within an agency. An Agency Head may wish to provide guidelines in relation to the assignment of temporary duty to avoid situations where a delegate in one part of the agency assigns temporary duties to an employee whilst another delegate "refuses to release" the individual. It should be noted that the Agency Head is the ultimate authority in any situation involving assignment of duties within their agency.

Temporary movement to another agency

8. Where there is a temporary movement to another agency, the pre-move Agency Head has a degree of control over temporary movements out of their agency. A pre-move Agency Head has no power to prevent a movement but if they do not approve the temporary movement in writing, the movement is then treated as if it were an ongoing movement.

9. A post-move Agency Head may, therefore, decide not to proceed with an agreement to move if the pre-move Agency Head has not given approval for the movement. If the movement proceeds without the approval of the pre-move Agency Head, the employee becomes an ongoing employee of the post-move agency and the pre-move agency has no further obligations to that employee.

10. Once an agreement for a temporary movement to another Agency has been finalised, any variation to that original agreement will require the further agreement of all three parties-the written approval of the pre-move Agency Head, as well as the agreement of the post-move Agency Head and the individual. A variation may arise from the post move agency's desire to extend the temporary arrangement due to work volume or other commitments, or desire to terminate the arrangement early because of changed circumstances.

11. If the pre-move Agency Head does not agree to the variation, the agreement continues under the original terms, for example, it ceases on the date stated in the agreement or on the completion of a specified project.

Resignation whilst on temporary movement

12. Where an employee resigns while on a temporary movement to another agency, the employee is treated as an employee of the post-move agency, rather than as an employee of the pre-move agency.

Requests for review of temporary assignments

13. There is no right of review in relation to the selection of a person to perform a temporary assignment at any classification.

Agency specific arrangements

14. Agencies are encouraged to implement internal arrangements in relation to both temporary assignments at level and to higher classifications within the framework established by the PS Act and the Commissioner's Directions. Agencies should ensure that any agency specific arrangements are notified and available to all employees.

Further advice

15. General enquiries about this circular and temporary movement issues can be directed to the Commission's Helpline on (02) 6202 3859.

Linda Kendell

Acting Group Manager

Policy and Employment Group

15 December 2003

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018