Most watchers of government might have suspected that restructures and redundancies were used to quietly get rid of the worst performers. Some have se
We recently moved our readers to a new system. You may need to reset your password here to login.
Not a member ? Join here for free.
Forgot your password?
Home Features ‘You eejit!’: coding the line between work and play
Text size :
TAGS code of conduct, APS Code of Conduct, behaviour, behaviour management
To what extent is off-duty behaviour during work travel governed by the APS code of conduct? The exact dividing line between work and play, as usual in workplace matters, can be a murky one.
Keen-eyed employment lawyers were treated to an interesting read last month, with the Fair Work Commission holding that an employee sacked for groping a waitress while on work travel was not unfairly dismissed. Commissioner Cloghan’s judgment featured a number of quotable lines, describing the applicant as an “eejit” and suggesting that he had “not fully recovered from the disease of ‘youth'”.
Frivolities aside, the decision raises a number of important questions with relevance for both the private and public sector. The significance of the broader issue at hand — to what extent will behaviour outside the workplace be considered misconduct? — is amplified by 2013 changes to the APS code of conduct.
In the de-identified matter of Applicant v Employer, an employee had been temporarily accommodated at a hotel by his employer. Following allegations that the employee sexually harassed a bartender at the hotel restaurant by “groping her bum”, the employee was swiftly stood down pending an investigation and later terminated.
In finding that the dismissal had not been unfair, and that instead “the Employer had a valid reason to terminate … a reason that was sound, valid and defensible”, the commissioner considered a range of factors that located the actions within the scope of employment.
Receive unlimited access, get all the latest public sector news and features, plus The Juice, our daily news update sent direct to your inbox.
The Mandarin is where Australia's public sector leaders discuss their work and the issues faced within modern bureaucracy. Join today to discover the latest in public administration thinking and news from our dedicated reporters, current and former agency heads and senior executives.
John Wilson is the managing legal director of Bradley Allen Love in Canberra and an accredited specialist in industrial relations and employment law. He has twice appeared on the Best Lawyers list, and has an extensive public sector employment practice.
Read Related Content
The VPSC has updated the code of conduct for directors of the state's 3000 public entities, including school boards, public hospitals and cemetery trusts. Conflict of interest policy is stronger and clearer.
Most watchers of government might have suspected that restructures and redundancies were used to quietly get rid of the worst performers. Some have seen it first hand. Now, it's official.