Liars, social media pests to face sack in new public service code

Federal public servants who lied their way into their jobs could face the sack under a shake-up of the bureaucracy's disciplinary code.

Changes to the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct will also extend bosses' power to punish staff for off-the-job misbehaviour, including conduct on Twitter and Facebook.

But federal authorities say the Public Service Amendment Act 2013, which comes into force in July, will not regulate the private lives of public servants.

A new clause will make employees liable if they have not acted with ''honesty and integrity'' during the hiring process, according to official advice from the Australian Public Service Commission's group service manager, Karin Fisher.

Employees can now be disciplined for ''misconduct action to be taken where a person has provided false or misleading information in connection with their engagement as an APS employee, i.e. pre-commencement misconduct'', according to the advice.

The code of conduct will now apply ''in connection with the employee's employment, rather than only in the course of employment''.


''This is designed to give agencies greater clarity and confidence when considering suspected breaches of the code which occur outside work hours and away from the conventional workplace,'' Ms Fisher wrote.

''For example, the amendment should provide more certainty when dealing with suspected breaches that occur on work-related travel or training, and will reinforce the need for APS employees to remember the code of conduct when they are, for example, posting comments about their workplace or colleagues on social media forums.

''However, at the same time employees are entitled to a private life and the amendments are not intended to allow the code to regulate every aspect of that private life.''

Bosses would have to prove a genuine link between the workers' job and their behaviour before any punishment could take place.

Sanctions available vary from a simple reprimand through to fines, demotions and dismissal.

The code will also be amended so that public servants must uphold the reputation of their agency and not just the broader service and there will also be service-wide changes to the workplace aimed at promoting ''a high-performance culture''.

The new rules put the onus on departments and agencies to ensure that each employee knows what is expected of them in their work and to see that the performance of each worker is ''effectively managed''.

Meanwhile, Canberra's public servants enjoyed the nation's second-highest wage growth in the past 12 months, according to the Bureau of Statistics. Average hourly wages in the federal and territory sectors rose 3.8 per cent, compared with 4 per cent for West Australian bureaucrats.


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