Promotion decisions in the Australian Public Service (APS) must be based on merit as described in the APS Employment Principles in section 10A of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act).
An ongoing APS employee can be promoted on an ongoing basis within their current agency, or they can be promoted to another APS agency.
A decision to promote a person is based on merit if:
- all eligible members of the community are given a reasonable opportunity to apply
- an assessment is made of the relative suitability of candidates, using a competitive selection process
- the assessment is based on the relationship between the candidates' work-related qualities and the qualities genuinely required to perform the relevant duties
- the assessment focuses on the relative capacity of candidates to achieve outcomes related to the relevant duties
- the assessment is the primary consideration in making the employment decision.
The application of merit in APS engagement and promotion decisions is explained in Part 4 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2022 (the Directions).
How is a promotion enacted?
Where a promotion is to take place within an agency, assignment of duties to the higher classification will occur via section 25 of the PS Act.
If the promotion includes a movement between APS agencies, the employee will be moved via a permanent s26 transfer then assigned duties at the higher classification on commencement with the new agency.
What is the difference between a promotion and progression through a broadband?
A promotion, as defined by section 6 of the Directions, is the ongoing assignment of duties at a higher classification following a competitive selection process.
Specifically excluded from this definition is assignment of duties at a higher classification as part of a broadband. Where an agency has an established broadband in place, progression though this broadband does not require and is not the same as a promotion.
Date of effect
Where the promotion is not subject to review
- The date of effect of the promotion is a date agreed by the relevant parties or otherwise four weeks after the decision is notified in the Public Service Gazette (the Gazette). This applies regardless of whether the promotion is within the same agency or to another agency.
- The date of effect of the promotion is determined by the date of notification in the Gazette. Where the move is to another agency, the losing agency cannot prevent or delay the promotion taking effect.
- However, the employee and the relevant agencies can agree to a different date, provided that it is after the date the decision is notified in the Gazette.
Where the promotion may be subject to review
- An application to have a promotion decision reviewed will need to be made within the application period. This is generally a period of two weeks following the notification of the promotion in the Gazette*. However, the Merit Protection Commissioner can approve a longer application period.
- Where no application for review is lodged, the date of effect of the promotion is two weeks after the application period has ended or a date agreed by the employee and the relevant agencies that is not earlier than the end of the application period.
- Where an application for review is lodged, then a number of factors determine the date of effect. These are described in section 42 of the Directions. Most commonly, the promotion takes effect four weeks after the gaining Agency Head is notified of the Promotion Review Committee's decision or on a date agreed to by the employee and the relevant agencies.
- Different provisions apply where an employee who is promoted to another agency is suspected of having breached the APS Code of Conduct (see section 47 of the Directions).
* Note: Outcome notices, including promotion notices, may be published on APSJobs website at any time but are only ‘notified’ once they have been published as part of the Weekly Gazette on Thursdays. This Thursday date also functions as the start date for any review periods which may apply.
Review of promotion decisions
Under certain circumstances, promotion decisions in relation to APS 1 to APS 6 level jobs may be subject to review by the Merit Protection Commissioner.
For further information see Promotion Reviews.
Cancelling promotion decisions
An employment decision may be cancelled, revoked or varied by the decision maker at any stage prior to the date at which it takes effect. In the case of promotions, the date of effect would generally be the date the candidate was to commence duties.
If a decision has been made but has not yet come into effect, the decision may be cancelled by decision maker at any time before it comes into effect.
If the decision was to promote a candidate and the promotion has been notified in the Gazette, the cancellation will also need to be notified in the Gazette as a cancellation notice.
For further information about cancelling employment decisions see Cancellation of employment decisions.
Moves to higher classifications that are not promotions
None of the following moves are regarded as a promotion:
- the temporary assignment of duties to an APS employee at a higher classification than the employee's substantive classification (often referred to as higher duties)
- the assignment of duties at a higher classification in a broadband to an ongoing APS employee already within the same broadband in the same agency
- the allocation of an operational classification to a trainee under the Public Service Classification Rules 2000 following the satisfactory completion of the relevant training requirement, or
- following a voluntary temporary reduction in an ongoing APS employee's classification, the ongoing assignment of duties to the employee at the employee's original classification.
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