There is an approved limit set by Government on the number of SES roles that an APS agency can have. Agencies need to manage the recruitment and management of SES employees within their agreed SES cap.
Increases to the SES Cap
The Assistant Minister to the Minister for the Public Service is supported by the Australian Public Service Commission, which monitors the SES cap and evaluates agency requests for any SES cap increases or movements.
Agency submissions should be in the form of a letter sent from the agency head to the APS Commissioner along with the completed business case and any other supporting attachments. The APS Commissioner will then make a recommendation to the Assistant Minister for his consideration.
All requests to increase an agency’s SES cap, both temporary and permanent, that lead to an increase in the overall agreed APS SES cap require Ministerial approval. Requests to transfer SES cap positions between agencies also require Ministerial approval.
Portfolios are encouraged to have a whole of portfolio management approach of the SES cap to encourage sharing positions between portfolio agencies where there is the capacity to do so. This will enable agencies to quickly respond to and deliver evolving Government priorities.
Agencies are encouraged to discuss their draft business case with the APSC before making a final submission. For a business case template and any questions you may have on the SES cap, please contact the Employment Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org or on (02) 6202 3857.
SES Cap Reporting
Agencies are required to report their SES numbers to the APSC on a quarterly basis via the SES cap database. Agency contacts will be notified by email when the reporting periods are opened for input.
For reporting purposes, SES numbers in an agency include all:
- ongoing SES employees;
- non-ongoing SES employees;
- casual SES employees; and
- non-SES employees acting in an SES role for three months or more.
Frequently Asked Questions
What do you do if you want to make a case for increasing your agency’s SES cap?
You will need to submit a robust business case for any additional SES roles. The business case must include a high level of detail as well as role evaluation(s) for any requested roles.
As a first step, you need to consult with the Employment Policy team at the APSC. The team will provide the business case template for you to use and outline what is needed in order for the request to be submitted to the Assistant Minister for consideration.
Agency submissions for increases to their SES cap must be sent from the relevant agency head to the APS Commissioner. The APSC evaluates all agency requests for increases to their SES cap and subsequently makes recommendations to the Assistant Minister.
Do you count the number of SES employees or the number of SES positions?
The SES cap is an approved limit on the number of SES roles that an APS agency can have. When reporting to the APSC, you report the number of roles actually filled. For example, an SES employee may be on long-term leave and their position may be backfilled. In this situation, the employee on leave would be reported as ‘inoperative’ and not be counted towards the agency’s SES figures. If the role is being backfilled for a period of three months or more, this arrangement would need to be reported.
Do you count a non-ongoing SES who has been brought in for three months for reporting purposes?
No. Three months or less is regarded as a short-term assignment and does not need to be reported.
What happens if a person is acting for three months or less and is then extended?
As soon period is extended to three months or more, the arrangement must be reported towards your agency’s agreed cap.
Can an agency give someone acting in an SES role a short break after three months and then start a new acting period, thus creating two short-term stints?
No. It is inappropriate to manufacture circumstances to circumvent SES cap requirements. Depending on the agency’s higher duties policies, such arrangements might also financially disadvantage employees acting in SES roles.
Can agencies borrow an additional SES position from another agency in their broader portfolio rather than request an increase to their SES cap?
Yes, but internal transfers of SES cap positions must be authorised by the Minister. The approval process is the same as requesting in increase in SES cap.
Please contact the Employment Policy team to discuss the process for requesting such arrangements.
If an SES officer accepts an incentive to retire, what happens to the SES cap?
When the section 37 incentive to retire is based on the role being excess to requirements, it is expected that the agency’s cap will be reduced. An agency’s SES cap will generally not be reduced when an SES employee receives an incentive to retire because that employee no longer has the skills needed to perform at their SES classification or if that employee is redeployed at the same or lower classification.
For more information on the SES cap, please see the additional attachments on this page.