Go to top of page

Download the MS Word version of this page

What changes are being made?

More flexibility has been added to non-ongoing employment arrangements.

From 1 December 2016, an agency head may engage a person as a non-ongoing employee, on either a specified term or specified task basis, for an initial period of up to 18 months without holding a competitive selection process. A competitive selection process is defined in sections 19 and 20 of the Directions.

The engagement may be extended to a total period of three years where there is continuing need for the duties to be performed, it is still appropriate for the duties to be performed on a temporary basis and the employee is performing satisfactorily.

The Public Service Regulations 1999 set out a maximum term of three years for specified term employment. The Regulations allow the Australian Public Service Commissioner to approve an extension of a specified term employment arrangement to a fourth year in exceptional circumstances. Such an extension will require a competitive selection process.

Specified task employment can exceed three years if the duration of the task is reasonably estimated to be for a longer period. However, a competitive merit process is required for a specified task engagement of greater than three years.

Agencies must ensure that, as far as practicable, temporary employment opportunities are brought to the attention of the community. Most agencies do this by advertising temporary employment registers on their websites or on www.apsjobs.gov.au.

There are no changes to the provisions for the engagement of employees on an irregular or intermittent basis.

When making employment decisions agency heads must, at a minimum, be satisfied that the person selected has the work-related qualities required to perform the duties of the job.

The Public Service Act 1999 requires that the usual basis for engagement is ongoing and that agency heads must ensure that employment decisions are free from discrimination, patronage and favouritism. These requirements have not changed.

What do agencies need to do?

Agencies may wish to advise line managers of the changes and update temporary employment registers to reflect that jobs may now be offered for up to 18 months, with the possibility of extension for up to three years.

What transition arrangements need to be put in place?

The new Directions allow for employees who were engaged prior to 1 December 2016 to have their employment extended of up to three years without the requirement for a competitive selection process.

What is the legislative basis?

  • Sections 10A and 22 of the Public Service Act 1999
  • Regulation 3.5 of the Public Service Regulations 1999
  • Sections 22 and 57 of the Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2016
Last reviewed: 
26 September 2018