Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Behaviour contrary to the Code

The effect of behaviour that is contrary to the Code

Behaviour contrary to this Code and to the Ethical framework for the government sector can bring individual employees into disrepute, undermine productive working relationships in the workplace, hinder customer service delivery, and damage public trust in your agency or the broader government sector.

If you are unsure of what is appropriate conduct under any particular circumstances, discuss the matter with your supervisor, manager or the relevant member of your agency’s executive. Heads of government sector agencies may also contact the Public Service Commissioner.

If you see behaviour contrary to this Code

If you see someone act in ways that are contrary to this Code, you should in the first instance discuss that person’s behaviour with your immediate supervisor or manager, or report your concerns to any member of the agency’s executive.

If you believe certain conduct is not just unethical, but may also be corrupt, a serious and substantial waste of government resources, maladministration or a breach of government information and privacy rights, then report your concerns to your agency’s Public Interest Disclosures Coordinator or Disclosures Officer, the head of your agency or the relevant investigating authority (such as the Ombudsman, Independent Commission Against Corruption or the Auditor-General). Under the Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994, it is both a criminal offence and misconduct to take reprisals against an employee who makes a public interest disclosure.

Actions when allegations are made

If it is alleged that you have acted in a way that is contrary to this Code, you will have an opportunity to provide your version of events. How this will happen will be proportionate to the seriousness of the matter. In those cases where the allegation is minor or of a low level, your manager will usually discuss this matter directly with you. If the allegations are more serious, a formal process may be required.

If you are investigating an allegation of a behaviour that is contrary to this Code, you must ensure your decision-making is fair and reasonable by acting consistently with four principles: i

  • Procedural fairness for both the complainant and staff member
  • Investigations should be handled expeditiously. This will minimise the potential for breaches of confidentiality and lack of procedural fairness
  • Confidentiality for all parties, where practicable and appropriate, until such time as the investigation process is completed
  • Meticulous recordkeeping, including recording of reasons for all significant decisions.

For employees of Public Service agencies, the GSE Act and GSE Rules set out how allegations of misconduct are to be dealt with.

Government sector agencies that are not part of the Public Service (the Teaching Service, Police Force, Health Service, Transport Service and other services of the Crown) are not bound by the misconduct provisions in the GSE Act and GSE Rules unless so prescribed. Non-Public Service agencies have their own legislative and/or policy requirements for dealing with allegations of misconduct.

For employees in the Public Service, Part 8 of the GSE Rules sets out the procedural requirements for dealing with allegations of misconduct, which include requirements that you be advised of the detail of the allegation; the process to be undertaken to investigate and resolve the matter; and that you be provided an  opportunity to respond to the allegations.

For employees in the Public Service, the GSE Act sets out the actions that a Public Service agency head may take where there is a finding of misconduct against an employee. These actions are as follows:

  • Terminate the employment of the employee (without giving the employee an opportunity to resign)
  • Terminate the employment of the employee (after giving the employee an opportunity to resign)
  • Impose a fine on the employee (which may be deducted from the remuneration payable to the employee)
  • Reduce the remuneration payable to the employee
  • Reduce the classification or grade of the employee
  • Assign the employee to a different role
  • Caution or reprimand the employee.

i) NSW Ombudsman (