Your responsibilities – a summary
As a NSW Government employee you must act in ways that are lawful, ethical and build trust in the publicsector. It is your responsibility to know, understandand comply with all the ethical and legal obligationsthat apply to you.
You should also take the time to learn what risks thereare – in the context of your own job – to your actinglawfully and ethically. This is especially important ifyou are new to public sector employment, as there arecertain obligations that are different from, or do notexist in, the private and not-for-profit sectors.
Remember – your conduct, both inside and outsidethe workplace, can have a significant impact on youremployer, your colleagues and, most importantly, thepeople of NSW.
At all times, your conduct must be consistent withthe Ethical framework for the government sector.The Ethical Framework is set out in Part 2 of theGovernment Sector Employment Act 2013 .
Code of Ethics and Conduct
The Public Service Commissioner has developed aCode of Ethics and Conduct for NSW government sectoremployees. Consistent with the Commissioner’sDirection No 1 of 2015, you are required to comply withthe mandatory requirements of the code, and with anysupplementary requirements determined by yourDepartment Secretary or agency head.
You must use public resources in an efficient, effectiveand prudent way. Never use public resources – money,property, equipment or consumables – for yourpersonal benefit, or for an unauthorised purpose. Ifyou are responsible for receiving, spending oraccounting for money, ensure you know, understandand comply with the requirements of the PublicFinance and Audit Act 1983, the Public Works andProcurement Act 1912 and the GovernmentAdvertising Act 2011.
Equal access and opportunity
Treat people equally, whether they are membersof the public, customers or colleagues. Don’tdiscriminate against people because of their sex,race or ethnicity, disability, age, marital status orsexual preference, or because they are a carer ora transgender person. Your obligations are set outin the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977. The Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW has more information.
Bullying is not tolerated in NSW government sectorworkplaces. You are required to treat members ofthe public, customers and colleagues fairly and withcourtesy and respect. If you are bullied by anyone, oryou witness bullying, it is important that you reportit immediately so that it can be stopped. Refer to youragency’s policies and procedures on how the reportshould be made and to whom.
Bullying in the workplace is defined as ‘repeated,unreasonable behaviour directed towards a workeror group of workers that creates a risk to health andsafety’. A single incident, or reasonable workplaceactions (including legal and reasonable performancemanagement and directions to employees), are notbullying.
As a government sector employee, you must nevermake improper use of the knowledge, power orresources of your position for personal gain or theadvantage of others. To do this would be corrupt.
Make sure you understand the definition of corruptconduct which is in the Independent CommissionAgainst Corruption Act 1988. If you see or suspectcorrupt conduct, you should report it – see the section 4.2 ‘How to report serious wrongdoing’
Identifying and managing risks
Gifts and benefits
Make sure you are familiar with your agency’s giftsand benefits policy. Don’t solicit gifts or benefits, oraccept a gift or benefit that is not allowed. Be alert toactual, potential or reasonably perceived conflicts ofinterests, and the risk of being ‘captured’ by a person ororganisation who wants a favour or special treatment.
The Work Health and Safety Act 2011 prescribesmeasures to ensure your safety at work. You must takereasonable care for your own health and safety and donothing that adversely affects the safety of others. Youshould report risks to your health and safety to yourmanager and familiarise yourself with the work, healthand safety arrangements in your workplace. WorkCoverNSW provides advice on workplace health and safety.
Under the State Records Act 1998, each NSWGovernment agency has obligations to make andkeep full and accurate records of its activities, andto establish and maintain a records managementprogram. As a government sector employee, it is yourresponsibility to follow the procedures which yourDepartment Secretary or agency head has put in placeto ensure that recordkeeping obligations are met.
Be aware that there are legal penalties for acting inways that are contrary to the State Records Act. TheState Records Authority of NSW provides guidanceon recordkeeping.
Privacy, personal information and health information
The Privacy and Personal Information ProtectionAct 1998 and the Health Records and InformationPrivacy Act 2002 set out principles for the collection,storage and usage of personal information and healthinformation about individuals. These principlesare legal obligations with which your agency mustcomply. If you work with such information, you shouldfamiliarise yourself with the Information ProtectionPrinciples and the Health Privacy Principles.
Be aware that it is a crime to intentionally discloseanother person’s personal information or healthinformation, outside the performance of your officialduties. The Information and Privacy Commission NSWprovides guidance on your obligations as a governmentsector employee.
Access to information
The Government Information (Public Access) Act2009 (GIPA Act) mandates the proactive releaseof open access information and requires that thisinformation is available to members of the publicfree of charge or at the lowest reasonable cost.Additionally, the GIPA Act provides a mechanismfor members of the public to access governmentinformation more broadly unless there is anoverriding public interest against disclosure.
You should find out how GIPA Act applications arehandled in your agency. Be aware that there are legalpenalties for breaching the GIPA Act, including fordestroying, concealing or altering any informationfor the purpose of preventing its lawful disclosure. The Information and Privacy Commission NSWprovides guidance on GIPA Act requirements.
Procurement of goods and services
Under the Public Works and Procurement Act 1912,government agencies must ensure they obtain valuefor money in the exercise of their functions in relationto the procurement of goods and services. Agencieshave responsibilities to undertake procurement inaccordance with: the principles of probity and fairness;any policies and directions of the NSW ProcurementBoard that apply to the agency; and the agency’s termsof accreditation (if any) by the Procurement Board.
Government sector employees should consult theiragency’s Chief Procurement Officer where they requireassistance in undertaking procurement activities.Further information on NSW Government procurementlaw and policy is also available atwww.procurepoint.nsw.gov.au.
Public interest disclosures
The Public Interest Disclosures Act 1994 providescertain protections for NSW Government employeeswho report allegations of serious wrongdoing, inaccordance with the Act. Amongst other things,serious wrongdoing includes corrupt conduct, seriousmaladministration, serious and substantial wasteof public money, and failure to exercise functionsproperly in accordance with the GovernmentInformation (Public Access) Act 2009.
You should familiarise yourself with your agency’s internalreporting policy for public interest disclosures. You canreport wrongdoing internally, or to an investigatingauthority. The Office of the NSW Ombudsman providesinformation on how to make a public interest disclosure.The ICAC also provides information relating to makinga public interest disclosure about corrupt conduct, andreports can be made to the ICAC using its online reportingsystem. Serious and substantial waste may be reportedto the Auditor-General; concerns about governmentinformation systems may be reported to the Office ofthe Information Commissioner; serious wrongdoingin a council may be reported to the Office of LocalGovernment; serious wrongdoing by a police officer maybe reported to the Police Integrity Commissioner; andserious wrongdoing by the NSW Crime Commission orits officers may be reported to the Inspector of the CrimeCommission.
For more information on how to make a public interestdisclosure, see section 4.2 ‘How to report seriouswrongdoing’.
Ask your manager for further information on thestandards of conduct you need to demonstrate in yourworkplace.
Further information and resources are alsoavailable from the NSW Public Service Commission.