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Model review of actions procedures

Policy and legislative context

Agencies are encouraged to consider the following key content areas in their review of actions policies and procedures.

A policy statement that…

  • operationalises and references the APS Values and the agency's values framework (for example fairness and transparency in decision making, openness and accountability) and
  • links to the agency's people management framework (for example the working environment and culture that the agency wants to establish)
  • acknowledges the value of the review process in:
    • providing feedback on the quality of employment decision making in the agency, and
    • problems with the application of agency people management policies
    • the quality of the working environment of the agency.
  • commits the agency to responding to issues identified through the review process.

A facilitative statement that acknowledges…

  • the legitimacy of raising concerns about the workplace
  • the right of employees to make complaints professionally and in good faith and to have them received and considered fairly.

In this context, it is worth noting the implied prohibition on discrimination and victimisation for making an application for review. Discrimination or victimisation for making a review of actions application is one of the grounds for seeking a primary review by the Merit Protection Commissioner under Regulation 5.24(3).

An explanation of the legislative framework

Agencies may wish to link this element of their procedures with the following topics:

which contains an explanation of the review provisions in legislation. It is useful also to reference other review processes available under legislation including for example discrimination law and the Human Rights Commissioner.

An outline of related policies and inquiry processes such as…

  • the dispute resolution provisions in the agency's enterprise agreement
  • workplace behaviour policies
  • whistleblowing procedures
  • procedures for reporting and investigating suspected misconduct.

There is value in agency review of actions procedures making clear that, in contrast to the review of action scheme, the primary focus of misconduct and whistleblower inquiries is not to resolve the complainant's concerns but to investigate the allegations. [See: What is the best response to a complaint or dispute?]

An explanation of the role of alternative forms of resolution and how to access it

Agency procedures may provide for alternative forms of resolution to be part of the review process.  However, they are not an alternative to a written decision on a review application nor a necessary first step before a matter is reviewed. [See: Alternative dispute resolution]

A description of the roles and responsibilities of the parties to the review, including…

  • the review applicant
  • the manager
  • the human resources function
  • the reviewer
  • the delegate and
  • the Merit Protection Commissioner.

Such descriptions can be expanded to explain the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the review.  This includes the responsibilities of managers when making and giving decisions such as the need to:

  • give reasons for decisions and
  • to advise of review rights when making decisions that are likely to be adverse or contested.

It also includes the responsibilities of employees when engaging with managers and colleagues and receiving decisions such as

  • communicating honestly, openly andrespectfully
  • addressing problems in the workplace in aconstructive and respectful way.

The review process

Advice on how to make an application including…

How and where to make an application. [See: Knowing how to apply]

Information on timeframes and performance standards

Indicative timeframes for the completion of reviews assist in managing employee's expectations and may reduce the incidence of progress inquiries. There is value in agencies committing to responding to applications within an established timeframe to indicate receipt of the application. [See: Indicative timeframes]

Information about the reviewer and delegate

The reviewer is the person who assists the delegate to make a decision on the review.  This may involve conducting an inquiry to establish factual issues to support the decision. The delegate is the person or position holding a delegation from the agency head to decide reviews of actions. As a matter of good practice, agency procedures should commit to the independence of the people chosen as reviewer and delegate and give employees the opportunity to raise any concerns they have about the independence or impartiality of these people.

Information about how any inquiry will be conducted including…

  • a commitment that the substance of the employee's complaint will be considered and
  • gathering additional evidence where necessary and relevant.

Agencies may wish to include procedural guidance for the reviewer and delegate on better practice in conducting inquiries and lawful decision making. A discussion of better practice in conducting inquiries is in Section 6. In this context, and consistent with agencies' responsibilities under the Privacy Act 1988 it is useful to advise employees of the use to which any information gathered during the course of the review will be put, and the circumstances in which it will be disclosed consistent with Information Privacy Principle 2. 

Information on what the review applicant can expect during the review including…

  • status updates particularly when unexpected delays occur and
  • pursuing other less formal options for resolution with the review applicant during the inquiry process if the review officer considers that it is appropriate.

Information on the outcome of the review

A explanation of what the review applicant can expect to get out the review processs including:

  • the recommendations available to the delegate and
  • a review report explaining the reasons for the decision.

It is also useful to detail the responsibilities on managers to respond to the findings of the review delegate promptly.