Code of Conduct

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Information for Code of Conduct reviews

Who is eligible to apply for a review of a breach of the Code of Conduct and/or sanction decision?

All current and some former non-SES employees of the Australian Public Service (APS) are eligible to apply.

If you are a current employee you can apply for review of:

  • a finding that you have breached the Code of Conduct
  • any sanction imposed.

If you are a former employee you can apply for review of:

  • a finding that you have breached the Code of Conduct, where that finding was made after you left APS employment.

There is no right of review of a sanction because it is not possible to impose sanctions on former employees.

If your employment was terminated as a sanction for breaching the Code of Conduct, you can take your case to the Fair Work Commission.

The Merit Protection Commissioner cannot review cases where the sanction is termination of employment.

Employees of the Parliamentary Service have a similar review scheme.

Are there timeframes for reviews of a breach of the Code of Conduct and/or sanction decisions?

Yes, there are important timeframes.

An application 

for review of a... must be made within...

breach decision

60 days of the decision

Do not wait to receive a sanction decision before applying for review of the breach decision.

If there is a delay in the sanction decision, you could be too late to seek review of the breach decision.

sanction decision

60 days of the decision 60 days is calculated from the date the sanction was decided, not the date the sanction took effect.


It is important to apply for review within the time limits (Regulation 5.23)


Applications received outside the 60 days will only be reviewed if the decision maker considers there are exceptional circumstances to explain the delay in applying for review. 

More information on exceptional circumstances is available.

The application for review is submitted direct to the Merit Protection Commissioner.

I have been suspended from my employment, is this reviewable?

Yes, decisions to suspend you from your employment are reviewable. They are reviewed under the other employment matter reviews.

Who you apply to and the timeframes for applying for this type of review are different.

Applying for a Code of Conduct review and what happens next

I don’t need more information, where do I apply for a Code of Conduct review?

Complete the application form and submit it via email or letter to the review team.

More information may be found in the information sheet for Code of Conduct review.

What happens next?

  1. We acknowledge receipt of your application; if it isn't accepted we advise you of the reasons.
  2. Your agency is informed and asked for information from their Code of Conduct investigation file.
  3. Your case is assigned to a review adviser.
  4. The review adviser contacts you and advises whether you need to provide more information. You may be asked to participate in a telephone interview with the review adviser.
  5. After the review adviser has considered all the information, your case is forwarded to the Merit Protection Commissioner's delegate.
  6. The delegate will make a recommendation and provide a report of their findings to you and to your agency.

What next diagram 

You will be provided with a copy of the information provided to this office.

More information on recommendations from reviews is available.

More information on what to expect in reviews is available.

More information on reviews in general is available.

What does the delegate consider?

The Merit Protection Commissioner's delegate considers:

  • the evidence gathered during the review
  • the employee's explanation for what happened and their concerns about the agency's decision(s).

The delegate reaches a conclusion about whether:

  • the employee did, or did not do, what is alleged
  • what the employee did, or did not do, was appropriate in light of the employee's responsibilities, agency policies etc
  • what the employee did, or did not do, was a breach of the Code of Conduct, and if so, what elements of the Code of Conduct were breached
  • if a sanction was imposed, was it appropriate in the circumstances of the employee's case.

In most cases, reviews by the delegate consider whether:

  • your agency substantially complied with it's procedures, policy or guidelines
  • the requirements of procedural fairness were substantially observed
  • the decision under review was appropriate or reasonable in the circumstances.

The delegate will then confirm, vary or set aside the agency decision(s).

The review does not consider whether it was appropriate to investigate the matter as a suspected breach of the Code of Conduct.

I want more information about the outcomes of reviews of Code of Conduct matters?

De-identified summaries on a range of employment matters, including Code of Conduct cases is available.

More information on the recommendations from reviews is available.

More information on what to expect in reviews is available.

More information on reviews in general is available.