Movement to the APS from a Commonwealth agency
Employees from non-APS Commonwealth agencies who wish to join an Australian Public Service (APS) agency will need to apply and be found suitable following a merit based selection process.
However there are specific arrangements for Parliamentary Service employees and employees from the intelligence agencies (the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)). These arrangements are detailed below.
The portability of accrued paid leave entitlements where employees move between a Commonwealth agency and the APS is decided by each agency, except where it is specified in legislation.
Engagement at a comparable or lower classification
Section 36 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2022 (the Directions) provides that an Agency Head may engage an ongoing Parliamentary Service employee as an ongoing APS employee at a comparable or lower classification without having to undertake a merit-based selection process.
Engagement at a higher classification
There are additional provisions that apply to the engagement of a Parliamentary Services employees into the APS at a higher classification, similar to the promotion of an APS employee. These are:
- the outcome must be notified in the Public Service Gazette as an engagement, in accordance with subsection 40(1)(d) of the Directions
- the decision may be subject to review by a Promotion Review Committee in accordance with Part 4 of the Public Service Regulations 2023 and
- the agency must include a statement about review requirements in the outcome notification, in accordance with subsection 40(7) of the Directions.
While the movement of a Parliamentary Service employee is an engagement in accordance with section 22 of the Public Service Act 1999 (PS Act) rather than a transfer under section 26 of the PS Act, the employee is not required to formally resign from the Parliamentary Service.
Ongoing employees of the Parliamentary Service are also eligible to apply for vacancies in the APS that are restricted to APS employees, in accordance with subsection 25(4) of the Directions.
There is no provision under APS employment legislation or Parliamentary Services legislation that enables temporary transfers between the two services.
However an ongoing APS or Parliamentary Service employee can be engaged on a non-ongoing basis into the other service in accordance with the provisions in the relevant Act. For non-ongoing engagements into the APS it is in accordance with section 22(2)(b) of the PS Act.
An ongoing APS employee taking up a temporary position with the Parliamentary Service may request leave without pay, which may be agreed at the discretion of the Agency Head.
Where leave without pay is not granted, the APS employee may wish to consider whether they want to resign from their current ongoing employment to take up the temporary offer in the Parliament Service. To re-join the APS at a later date, the individual would need to apply and be found suitable through a merit-based selection process.
ASD, ASIS and ASIO each have provisions within their legislation that enable an employee of the intelligence agency to transfer into the APS using section 26 of the PS Act.
The relevant provisions are:
- ASD, section 38G of the Intelligence Services Act 2001
- ASIS, section 36A of the Intelligence Services Act 2001
- ASIO, section 89 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979.
Each of the acts governing the intelligence agencies provides that section 26 of the PS Act applies in relation to the employee of the intelligence agency, as if the employee were an APS employee and the intelligence agency were an APS agency.
This means that when an employee from one of the intelligence agencies moves into the APS at an equivalent level, the movement will be in accordance with section 26 of the PS Act. This includes where the movement is a result of a merit-based selection process.
The intelligence agency acts also state that the employee of the intelligence agency is entitled to have their employment, as an employee of the Intelligence agency, treated as if it was employment as an APS employee and at a corresponding classification, as agreed between the Director-General of the intelligence agency and the Australian Public Service Commissioner.
Where an employee of an intelligence agency moves into the APS at a higher classification, the movement will be a promotion. The promotion must be gazetted in accordance with section 40 of the Directions and may be subject to promotion review. Consistent with APS employees, the employee of the intelligence agency is moved to the new agency using section 26 of the PS Act, and then assigned duties at the higher classification using section 25 of the PS Act (the promotion). The promotion takes effect in accordance with section 42 of the Directions.
Conditions of engagement
APS agencies should consider whether it is necessary to impose conditions of engagement such as probation on employees moving to the APS from the Commonwealth, including the Parliamentary Services.
Section 44 of the Directions requires an Agency Head to ensure probation is applied when engaging an employee into the APS, unless they are satisfied that there are reasonable circumstances justifying waiving probation. Prior to engaging an employee from a Commonwealth department, agencies should ensure that the Agency Head has considered whether it is appropriate to waive a probation period.
Where an employee moving to the APS is from an intelligence agency (ASD, ASIS, ASIO), conditions of engagement cannot be applied. An employee moving from an intelligence agency into the APS is moved in accordance with section 26 and is not engaged in accordance with section 22.
Prior to entering into a written agreement, the Agency Head should:
- confirm whether the employee is still subject to any conditions of engagement including any conditions that have been waived and
- determine whether there are any conditions of employment required for the role or agency.
The Agency Head can then determine if the move should proceed.
Transfer of leave entitlements
The portability of accrued paid leave entitlements where an employee moves from a Commonwealth agency into the APS is determined by each agency, where it is not specified in legislation.
HR practitioners seeking advice on the operation of maternity leave, long service leave and the APS Award can contact the Workplace Relations team at email@example.com.
HR practitioners seeking more information on movement between a Commonwealth Agency and the APS can contact the Employment Policy team via firstname.lastname@example.org or call the advice line on (02) 6202 3857.