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Handling misconduct: a human resource manager's guide

Welcome to the 2018 version of Handling Misconduct: a human resource manager's guide. This guide has been revised to help APS agencies and employees understand misconduct processes in the Australian Public Service.

The diagram below will help you to navigate to key points in the guide, which will give you background information to help you make decisions, or create agency procedures, that are fair and robust.

We want this guide to work for you. If you have suggestions about how it can be streamlined or improved even further, let us know by sending a message to ethics [at] apsc.gov.au.

Getting startedUnderstanding the legislationReporting suspected misconductIs performance management appropriate?Considering reports of misconductIs suspension appropriate?Starting an investigationDetermining a breachConsidering a sanctionKeeping recordsReviewing decisionsAssuring qualityTools for decision-makers

Employees of the Australian Public Service (APS) occupy a position of trust. They are entrusted by the Government and the community to undertake important work on their behalf. With this trust comes a high level of responsibility which should be matched by the highest standards of ethical behaviour from each APS employee.

Together the APS Values, the APS Employment Principles and the APS Code of Conduct set out the standard of behaviour expected of agency heads and APS employees. They provide the public with confidence in the way public servants behave, including in their exercise of authority when meeting government objectives.

Most public servants meet these standards most of the time. Sometimes, however, APS employees do not act in a way that is consistent with expectations.

This guide, Handling Misconduct, is designed to support managers to take the most appropriate action at every stage of the misconduct process. This includes when unacceptable behaviour by APS employees is first identified through to terminating their employment where that is justified.

The guide draws from experience with managing Code of Conduct inquiries in the APS. It suggests good practices for agencies to help them reach decisions that are fair, transparent, and robust. Fair decisions ensure that APS employees and the community at large can have confidence in the fairness of our processes, and that decisions are well grounded and properly made.

This is the second edition of Handling Misconduct, replacing the edition first published in 2007. It has been revised extensively to take account of amendments to the Public Service Act 1999 that came into effect on 1 July 2013 and 1 July 2014.

I am grateful to the Merit Protection Commissioner, the Departments of Defence, Finance, Health, and Human Services, the Australian Taxation Office, the Australian Trade Commission and the Australian Government Solicitor for their assistance with the development of this guide.

John Lloyd PSM
Australian Public Service Commissioner

The previous version of this publication is still available from this website.

Last reviewed: 
28 January 2021