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Senior executives

The NSW public sector needs strong, capable, high performing and innovative leadership to ensure community expectations, government and State Plan priorities and commitments are met by NSW public sector agencies. Senior executives are expected to have a high level of integrity and demonstrate commitment to the public sector values. 

The NSW public sector has a consistent, lean, and flat structure for senior executive roles across its various departments and agencies (See Circular PSCC-2013-10 for the design principles for executive structures under the GSE Act). This provides for greater mobility between senior executive roles in the Public Service, and for clarity around classification of work, roles and remuneration.

Senior executives roles are assigned to a band based on work level standards. The highest is Band 4 —Secretary level. A Secretary is the employer of senior executives in their Department and in executive agencies related to the Department while the head of a separate agency is the employer of senior executives in their agency. The Secretary and heads of separate agencies can create senior executive roles.

Act, regulation, rules

At a glance

PSSE employment structure 

PSSEs are employed in bands determined by the Premier. The Government Sector Employment (Senior Executive Bands) Determination 2014 prescribes four senior executive bands: 

  • Band 4—Secretary level.
  • Band 3—Deputy Secretary level.
  • Band 2—Executive Director level. 
  • Band 1—Director level.

The NSW Public Service Senior Executive Work Level Standards (WLS) is the main classifying tool for determining the appropriate band for senior executive roles.  

The WLS apply to all senior executive roles in the Public Service, other than Band 4 – Secretary level.   

The WLS comprise a hierarchy of descriptive standards which define the type of work that would be expected at Band 1, Band 2 and Band 3. Once the band is determined for a new senior executive role using the WLS and the role description finalised, a role evaluation is used to determine the work value points and place the role within the band.  

As a senior executive you will be employed in the relevant band and then assigned to a role that falls within that band. 

Total remuneration package 

The GSE Act provides that all senior executives must be paid a total remuneration package (TRP).

The Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal (SOORT) determines the minimum and maximum TRP for each band. It makes an annual remuneration determination that can adjust the TRP ranges and is effective from 1 July of that year. 

SOORT’s current and previous determinations are available on the NSW Remuneration Tribunals website. 

Determining appropriate remuneration and increases over time 

The NSW Public Service Senior Executive Remuneration Management Framework outlines the approach for determining where within a band a senior executive role is placed for the purposes of remuneration.  

There are two ways this TRP may be adjusted over time within the remuneration range for a band: in accordance with SOORT’s annual determination effective 1 July each year, or through an agency’s formal performance management system. 


The GSE Act and GSE (General) Rules include a number of mobility provisions that help employees and employers respond to workforce needs and develop employee capabilities. Mobility helps employees experience new areas of work, increase their knowledge, develop their capabilities, and bring new ideas into the workplace.  

PSSEs are employed within a band rather than in a specific role. Senior executives are ‘assigned’ to a role under Section 38 of the GSE Act. Senior executives may be subsequently assigned to different roles within the same band, in the same Public Service agency or in another. Assignment to another role is the primary mechanism of mobility within your band. 

Senior Executives may also be temporarily assigned to another role in the same band (at level) or a higher band (above level), within a Public Service agency or in another.  A senior executive would be temporarily assigned to a role (under GSE (General) Rule 11) instead of being assigned (under Section 38 of the GSE Act) if an executive is: 

  • only needed in the role for a defined period (usually short) with a specified end date; and
  • expected to return to their most recently assigned role at the end of the temporary assignment. 

If a senior executive is temporarily assigned to a role with a higher level of remuneration and work value, they may be eligible for a Temporary Assignment Allowance. For further information, see the Assignment to Role Guidelines.

Model contracts of employment are prescribed

The GSE Act provides for senior executives to be employed under a written model contract of employment. 

The Government Sector Employment (General) Rules 2014 (GSE (General) Rules) prescribe the model contracts of employment for Public Service senior executives. Health Service, Transport Service and Police Force senior executives may also have a prescribed model contract of employment, depending on the provisions of respective legislation covering their role. 

The contract of employment identifies key conditions of employment such as the band in which a senior executive is employed, the role to which they are assigned and their total remuneration package. The contract also covers leave entitlements, agreed part-time work arrangements and any compensation payable on termination of employment.

Executives should make private interest disclosures and uphold public sector values

Senior executives must demonstrate high levels of personal conduct consistent with the core values of integrity, trust, service and accountability. This includes by taking actions such as making annual declarations of interests (See: Circular PSCC-2015-08). The core values are described in more detail in the page on ethics and conduct.

Arrangements for Health Service, Transport Service and Police Force senior executives

Executive employment arrangements for Health Service senior executives, Transport Service senior executives and Police Force senior executives are set by the legislation which governs these organisations. The legislation aligns with the GSE Act but you should check each Act to understand the extent to which GSE provisions apply.

More information

  • The NSW Public Service Senior Executive Work Level Standards (WLS) have been developed to assist Departments and agencies in determining the appropriate band for Public Service senior executive roles under the Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act).

  • Public Service senior executives’ remuneration is set annually in line with this Senior Executive Remuneration Management Framework.
    It incorporates the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal (SOORT) Annual Determination for Public Service Senior Executives.

    You can also view the Senior Executive Remuneration Management Framework version for previous years.

  • The NSW Government Sector Executive Relocation Expenses Framework (‘the Framework’) outlines the relocation expense allowances payable to an executive where that executive is required to relocate to undertake a role (1) in the NSW government sector.

See also