Policy and Guidelines

Public sector employment principles

The principles define how employees can expect to be treated when applying for jobs, working together, seeking development or resolving disputes.

Section 8 of the Public Administration Act 2004 (the Act) requires the establishment of employment processes that ensure that:

  • employment decisions are based on merit
  • public sector employees are treated fairly and reasonably
  • equal employment opportunity is provided
  • human rights as set out in the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities are upheld
  • public sector employees have a reasonable avenue of redress against unfair or unreasonable treatment
  • in the case of the public service, the development of a career public service is fostered

Victorian Public Sector Commission Standards

Section 62 of the Act requires the Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) to issue binding standards concerning application of the public sector employment principles.

The standards identify the essential concepts that must be incorporated in public sector organisations' employment processes to ensure that the principles apply at work.

The VPSC has issued 6 standards that define essential elements of the employment principles:

  • fair and reasonable treatment
  • merit in employment
  • equal employment opportunity
  • human rights
  • reasonable avenue of redress
  • career public service (in the case of public service bodies)

As a public sector body, the Department is required to comply with any standards issued by the Public Sector Standards Commissioner. The Public Sector Standards Commissioner has issued binding standards that define essential elements of the employment principles set out above. In particular, the following standards apply to the principle of merit in employment:

  • employment decisions are to be based on the proper assessment of individuals' work-related qualities, abilities and potential against the genuine requirements of the employment opportunity
  • decisions to appoint new employees or promote existing employees are made on the basis of relative ability. Processes are to be transparent and designed to identify a suitable field of qualified candidates
  • decisions to appoint new employees or promote existing employees from a limited field of candidates are only to be made where candidates are identified based on objective criteria
  • decisions to assign duties or transfer employees (to roles at an equivalent level) are to be based on proper assessment of the employee against the genuine requirements of the duties or role

The processes and procedures set out in the Department's policies and guidelines for the public service and teaching service will ensure that corporate workplaces and schools comply with their obligations under the Act. Visit VPSC Employment Principles and StandardsExternal Link for information.

Additional information

Decision making on all human resources matters should be undertaken in accordance with the Department's ethical decision making model which provides a guide for managers, principals and other employees to follow when thinking through ethical challenges, exploring ethical dilemmas and identifying ethical courses of action. Refer to Values — Department and VPS Values for School Employees topic.

The VPSC also provides guidance on ethics in public sector workplaces:

Policy and Guidelines for Victorian Public Sector Employment Principles and Standards

Reviewed 29 April 2021

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