APS human resource managers given guide to handling misconduct

By Jackson Graham

February 4, 2022

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Academics and former officials pin hopes on diplomatic communications remaining open.  (Olga K/Adobe)

Federal human resource managers are receiving updated guidelines on handling misconduct, amid the Australian Public Service Commission tweaking a range of advice to agencies. 

APSC commissioner Peter Woolcott released the “best practice guidance” to APS agencies this week on how to address behaviour that doesn’t meet the requirements of APS values, employment principles, and the code of conduct. 

“The integrity and proper conduct of each APS employee is critical to maintaining public trust in the APS as an institution,” Woolcott said in a statement. 

“As important, however, is how the APS as an employer manages behaviour that falls short of expectations.”

The guide provides a “diagnostic approach” to issues and encourages agencies to consider employees’ behaviour in context. 

The guide also encourages managers to assess the behaviour’s “seriousness and impact on public confidence in the APS” and take action that is “corrective, restorative, and proportionate”, Woolcott says. 

“[It] also sets out a range of management strategies agencies can put in place to improve individual behaviour, repair workplace relationships, and address systemic issues in cases where misconduct action would be disproportionate,” he said. 

An explanation of the principles and legislative framework underpinning APS conduct requirements and misconduct action also appears in the guide, which flags considerations for decision-makers at particular stages of the process. 

The changes came in the same week that Woolcott updated directions to agencies and departments, mandating that all new public servants undergo integrity training.

The directions also give agency heads more leeway to not publicly name staff who are fired for breaching a code of conduct, and requires employers to notify the commissioner before settling sexual harassment matters.


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