Frequently asked questions
Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs)
Why do agencies need to consult the Commissioner before entering into NDAs relating to sexual harassment?
The intention of the provisions is to ensure greater accountability and transparency in the use of NDAs within the APS, and provide an advisory role for the Commissioner as a neutral party. Agency Heads retain decision-making power in these matters.
How should agencies notify the Commissioner of NDAs entered into?
Agencies will be asked to report on the number of NDAs entered into in the last financial year as part of the Commission’s annual APS Agency Survey.
Does the 18 months life span of a merit list commence from those merit lists created after the 1 February 2022 or can previous merit lists get extended for an additional 6 months?
Under the Commissioner’s Directions 2022 where an agency makes a decision that a vacancy exists after 1 February 2022, it can be filled from a merit list/pool from a vacancy notified in the Public Service Gazette within the previous 18 months.
Does this include merit lists from the Parliamentary Departments?
Yes it does. However, APS agencies cannot share their merit lists with the Parliamentary Departments until their equivalent of the Commissioner’s Directions are changed to enable reciprocal sharing with APS agencies.
What if an agency has only notified candidates on a merit list/pool that their details may be shared with other agencies for a period of 12 months after the date the vacancy was notified in the Public Service Gazette?
Agencies will need to consider whether they need to contact candidates on a merit list/pool to get their agreement for their details to be shared for the longer period. This will based on what agencies have told their candidates and the permissions they have received.
Gazettal of employment decisions
When can a person’s name be excluded from notification of a termination decision on the Public Service Gazette?
Generally, the position is that a person’s name must be included in a notification of an employment decision (including termination decisions) in the Public Service Gazette.
The 2016 Commissioner’s Directions already provided Agency Heads with the discretion to decide not to include a person’s name in a notification because of the person’s work-related or personal circumstances.
The 2022 Commissioner’s Directions provide that, in cases of notification of termination for breach of the Code of Conduct, in deciding to exclude person’s name, the Agency Head needs to be satisfied that publishing the name is not necessary to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the APS.
This provision permits Agency Heads to exclude a person’s name in circumstances where publication of the person’s name would not be rationally connected or proportionate to achieving the objective of maintaining confidence in the integrity of the APS. Agency Heads are expected to use this provision only in limited circumstances where it may warrant it – for example, where a person’s safety may be compromised by the publication of their name.
Importantly, where a person’s name has been excluded from notification for any reason, the 2022 Commissioner’s Directions require Agency Heads to notify the Commissioner of the person’s name. This will ensure there is accountability in the process and that the exclusion of the person’s name is justified in the circumstances.
SES conduct matters
Why do agencies need to consult the Commissioner on SES conduct matters and sanctions?
The intention of the provisions is to support greater consistency in the handling of misconduct investigations and sanctions, with the aim of strengthening trust in the SES and in the integrity of the APS. Agency Heads retain decision-making power in these matters.
Does the requirement to engage new employees into APS on probation include non-ongoing and short-term engagements?
Yes it does. However an Agency Head may waive the requirement if they are satisfied is it reasonable to do so. An engagement that is for lesser duration than an agency’s probation period is an example of where an Agency Head may decide to waive probation.
Further guidance on probation can be found at: https://www.apsc.gov.au/working-aps/aps-employees-and-managers/guidance-and-information-recruitment/probation.
Who needs to complete integrity training and within what time period?
The 2022 Commissioner’s Directions mandate that all employees who are new to the APS need to complete foundational integrity training. New ongoing APS employees are required to complete integrity training within 6 months of being engaged. New non‑ongoing APS employees are required to complete integrity training as soon as practicable after being engaged.
Is there a specific integrity training program that needs to be completed?
The Commission has made available an integrity e-learning module – Integrity in the APS – for all agencies to use. This training can be accessed via APSLearn or arrangements can be made to load the module onto an agency’s learning management platform.
The Commission also recognises that some APS agencies already provide similar and/or equivalent integrity training. To provide flexibility and to ensure alignment with the Government’s commitment, the Commission has established a process to enable APS agencies to seek endorsement to use their equivalent integrity training. Agencies should contact email@example.com for further information.
Will agencies be required to report on participation rates?
Commencing in 2022, the State of the Service – Agency Survey will be used as a mechanism for agencies to report against the integrity training requirements as stated in The Directions. Agencies will be asked if they have met the requirement to provide mandatory integrity training to employees that are new to the APS. Participation rates will not be captured at this time.