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Movement between APS agencies

The following information is about the movement of APS employees between APS agencies at their existing or a lower classification level.

Information on the movement of APS employees following a promotion.

Information for APS employees looking to change jobs in the APS.

Movement between APS agencies at level

An APS employee can agree to move from one APS agency to another at his or her classification level, or a lower classification level.

Such a move can follow an advertised vacancy and a competitive selection process based on merit. (See Merit in recruitment for more information.)

However, because a transfer at level (or below level) is not an engagement or promotion, it may also take place without a full merit process – subject to individual agency arrangements.

  • The voluntary transfer of an APS employee between agencies can be on an ongoing basis or for a specified period.
  • Following the transfer, the new agency head assigns duties to the employee. See Assignment of duties for more information.

Ongoing transfers between APS agencies

An ongoing move requires the written agreement of an ongoing APS employee and the gaining agency head. The agreement of the losing agency head is not required.

  • An ongoing move to a job at the same or lower classification level takes effect on a day agreed by the two agencies and the employee, or otherwise on a day four weeks from the date on which the APS employee informs the losing agency head in writing of the transfer.
  • Where a decision has been made that would result in the move of an employee who is suspected of having breached the Code of Conduct, the move cannot take effect until the matter is resolved, unless the employee and the two agency heads agree otherwise.

Temporary transfers between APS agencies

A temporary move requires the written agreement of the employee, the losing agency head and the gaining agency head.

  • A temporary move to a job at the same or a lower classification level takes effect on the date of effect agreed by all parties.
  • The temporary move is subject to the terms under which it is made. Careful consideration should be given to the written agreement—for example—conditions where the agreement can be ended (see 'Cancelling a move', below).
  • There is no maximum period for a temporary move.
  • At the end of the agreed period, the employee will return to their original agency unless other arrangements have been made.
  • The period of the temporary move can only be varied with the written agreement of the two agencies and the employee concerned.

Where the current agency head does not agree to the temporary move, the gaining agency head and/or the employee may decide not to proceed. Alternatively, the gaining agency head and the employee may decide to proceed with the move, but where this occurs, the move will be regarded as ongoing with no right of return to the original agency.

Cancelling a move

Detailed information on cancellation of employment decisions is found on the Cancellation of employment decisions page.

Decisions relating to moves between agencies are dependent upon the conditions of the individual agreement.

  • An agency head does not have the power to unilaterally cancel a section 26 move unless the agreement permits this. If the agreement does not address grounds for cancelling a move, the agreement can only be cancelled or varied by further written agreement between the parties.

It is good practice for an agreement to include a provision which allows the move to be cancelled if either the gaining agency head or the employee withdraws from the agreement.

Compulsory transfers between agencies

The Australian Public Service Commissioner can move an APS employee to another APS agency without the employee's consent:

  • where the employee is excess to requirements - section 27 of the PS Act
  • following a change to administrative arrangements – section 72 of the PS Act. More information is at Machinery of Government changes.


Last reviewed: 
9 November 2018