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Sect 4.13 Outside employment

Note that this page is under review. It has not yet been updated to reflect changes to the Public Service Act 1999 and Public Service Regulations 1999, or contained in the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2013, that came into effect on 1 July 2013. Agencies may continue to use the
guidance for reference, but should be aware that it may not reflect current legislative requirements.

Relevant elements of the Code of Conduct

APS Code of Conduct

  • An APS employee must act with care and diligence in the course of APS employment.
  • An APS employee must disclose, and take reasonable steps to avoid, any conflict of interest (real or apparent) in connection with APS employment.

APS employees are able to work outside the APS if it does not conflict with or adversely affect the performance of their official duties. Agencies should identify areas where conflicts may arise and establish guidelines for employees.

Outside employment includes paid work, such as running a business, maintaining a professional practice, being director of an organisation, or acting as a tax agent, as well as unpaid work.

Generally, APS employees should not seek outside work if it:

  • would conflict or be perceived to conflict with their official duties
  • is likely to affect their ability to perform their official duties.

Agencies should develop policies about outside employment. Agency heads may require employees to notify the agency head if they intend to engage in outside employment, so that the agency head is able to decide whether there is any incompatibility between the outside employment and the employee's duties
in the agency. In making a decision, agency heads should balance the agency's interests and the employee's rights.

An agency head may also agree to outside employment conditional on satisfactory performance of official duties.

An APS employee should inform their agency if the nature or circumstances of the approved outside employment changes or their official duties change, which could give rise to a conflict of interest with the outside employment.


When considering whether to become a director of an organisation, APS employees should consider whether the organisation:

  • is or is about to enter a contractual relationship with the Commonwealth or its authorities
  • receives financial assistance from the Commonwealth
  • has a primary role to lobby Ministers, Members of Parliament or government agencies and authorities about issues related to the person's official duties
  • is regulated by the employee's agency
  • would give another business, including a government enterprise, reasonable grounds to perceive a conflict of interest.

Use of paid and unpaid leave

An APS employee wishing to undertake outside employment while on leave should obtain approval from their agency head. This applies whether the leave is unpaid or paid, including annual/recreational and long service leave.

Unpaid voluntary work

Unpaid work can also conflict with a person's official duties. Usually, approval is not required. However, if an APS employee is in any doubt, they should raise with their agency head whether the unpaid voluntary work would involve real or perceived conflicts of interest.

Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018