This document is part of the Victorian Public Entity executive employment resource.
Summary of mandatory requirements and responsibilities
- Victorian public sector employees must comply with the Public Sector Values (Section 7 of the PAA 2004) and Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees or Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees of Special Bodies.
- Executives in public entities must also comply with the Victorian Government Professional Lobbyists Code of Conduct and the Gifts, Beneﬁts and Hospitality Policy Guide.
- Executive employment contracts are based on the Standard Contract. The Standard Contract is a model best practice contract but all public entity executive employment contracts must contain the mandatory contractual terms contained in the Public Entity Executive Remuneration Policy.
3.1 Values and conduct
Responsiveness – public officials should demonstrate responsiveness by:
- providing frank, impartial and timely advice to Government
- providing high quality services to the Victorian community
- identifying and promoting best practice.
Integrity – public officials should demonstrate integrity by:
- being honest, open and transparent in their dealings
- using powers responsibly
- reporting improper conduct
- avoiding any real or apparent conﬂicts of interest
- striving to earn and sustain public trust of a high level.
Impartiality – public officials should demonstrate impartiality by:
- making decisions and providing advice on merit without bias, caprice, favouritism or self-interest
- acting fairly by objectively considering all relevant facts and applying fair criteria
- implementing government policies and programs equitably.
Accountability – public officials should demonstrate accountability by:
- working to clear objectives in a transparent manner
- accepting responsibility for their decisions and actions
- seeking to achieve best use of resources
- submitting themselves to appropriate scrutiny.
Respect – public officials should demonstrate respect for colleagues, other public officials and members of the Victorian community by:
- treating others fairly and objectively
- ensuring freedom from discrimination, harassment and bullying
- using their views to improve outcomes on an ongoing basis.
Leadership – public officials should demonstrate leadership by:
- actively implementing, promoting and supporting these values.
Human Rights – public officials should respect and promote the human rights set out in the Charter of Human Rights by:
- making decisions and providing advice consistent with human rights
- actively implementing, promoting and supporting human rights.
The Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees and the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees of Special Bodies reinforce the values. The Victorian Public Sector Values and Codes of Conduct are a public statement of how we conduct our business and how we treat our clients and colleagues.
3.2 Conﬂict of interest
- an actual conﬂict of interest is one where there is a real conﬂict between public duties and private interests
- a potential conﬂict of interest arises where private interests could conﬂict with public duties
- a perceived conﬂict of interest is where a third party could form the view that an executive’s private interests could improperly inﬂuence their actions as a public sector employee, now and in the future.
3.3 Gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality
Public oﬃcials oﬀered gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality:
- Do not, for themselves or others, seek or solicit gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality.
- Refuse all oﬀers of gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality that:
- are money, items used in a similar way to money, or items easily converted to money
- give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conﬂict of interest
- may adversely aﬀect their standing as a public oﬃcial or which may bring their public sector employer or the public sector into disrepute or
- are non-token oﬀers without a legitimate business beneﬁt.
- Declare all non-token oﬀers (valued at $50 or more1) of gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality (whether accepted or declined) on the public entity’s register and seek written approval from their manager or delegate to accept any non-token oﬀer.
- Refuse bribes or inducements and report inducements and bribery attempts to the head of the public entity or their delegate (who should report any criminal or corrupt conduct to Victoria Police or the Independent Broad-based Anti corruption Commission).
1 Except where a person employed under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 in a Victorian government school receives an offer from or on behalf of a parent, guardian, carer or student intended to express appreciation of the person’s contribution to the education of a student or students, in which case non-token includes any offer worth more than $100.
Public oﬃcials providing gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality:
- Ensure that any gift, beneﬁt and hospitality is provided for a business purpose in that it furthers the conduct of oﬃcial business or other legitimate organisational goals or promotes and supports government policy objectives and priorities.
- Ensure that any costs are proportionate to the beneﬁts obtained for the State, and would be considered reasonable in terms of community expectations.
- Ensure that when hospitality is provided, individuals demonstrate professionalism in their conduct, and uphold their obligation to extend a duty of care to other participants.
Heads of public entities:
- Establish, implement and review organisational policies and processes for the eﬀective management of gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality that comprehensively address these minimum accountabilities.
- Establish and maintain a register for gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality oﬀered to public oﬃcials that, at a minimum, records suﬃcient information to eﬀectively monitor, assess and report on these minimum accountabilities.
- Communicate and make clear within the public entity that a breach of the gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality policies or processes may constitute a breach of binding codes of conduct and may constitute criminal or corrupt conduct, and may result in disciplinary action.
- Establish and communicate a clear policy position to business associates on the oﬀering of gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality to employees, including possible consequences for a business associate acting contrary to the public entity’s policy position. This must take into consideration any Whole of Victorian Government supplier codes of conduct.
- Report at least annually to the public entity’s audit committee on the administration and quality control of its gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality policy, processes and register. This report must include analysis of the public entity’s gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality risks (including repeat oﬀers from the same source and oﬀers from business associates), risk mitigation measures and any proposed improvements.
- Publish the public entity’s gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality policy and register on the public entity’s public website (applies only to public entities with an established website). The published register should cover the current and the previous ﬁnancial year.
Beneﬁts – preferential treatment, privileged access, favours or other advantage oﬀered including invitations to sporting, cultural or social events, access to discounts and loyalty programs, and promises of a new job.
Gifts – free or discounted items or services and any item or service that would generally be seen by the public as a gift. These include items of high value (e.g. artwork, jewellery, or expensive pens), low value (e.g. small bunch of ﬂowers), consumables (e.g. chocolates) and services (e.g. painting and repairs).
Hospitality – a friendly reception and entertainment of guests. Hospitality may range from light refreshments at a business meeting to expensive restaurant meals and sponsored travel and accommodation.
Disciplinary action consistent with the relevant industrial instrument and legislation, including dismissal, may be taken where an employee fails to adhere to this policy. This includes where an employee fails to avoid wherever possible or identify, declare and manage a conﬂict of interest related to gifts, beneﬁts and hospitality in accordance with VPSC’s Conﬂict of Interest Policy.
3.4 Professional Lobbyists Code of Conduct
- Executives must not knowingly and intentionally be party to lobbying activities by a lobbyist or government affairs director who is not listed on the Register of Lobbyists.
- When first contacted by a lobbyist, executives should ensure they are informed of which clients the lobbyist is representing, the nature of the clients’ issues, and whether the clients are involved in a government tender process.
- Executives must not be party to lobbying activities when they are involved in a government tender process.
- Executives should review the Professional Lobbyists Code of Conduct to ensure they are aware of the details of these requirements. An executive’s failure to comply with these obligations could be considered a breach of the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees and result in disciplinary action.
3.5 Standard Public Entity Executive Employment Contract
3.6 Work/life balance
Flexible working arrangements
In many public entities, executives can access support programs through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). The EAP is a personal coaching and counselling service that oﬀers conﬁdential, short-term support for a variety of work-related and personal issues that may be aﬀecting an executive at work or at home.
A qualiﬁed advisor from the EAP can talk with the executive or a member of the executive’s immediate family over the phone or arrange a face-to-face consultation at an agreed location, either on or oﬀ site. If an executive decides to access the EAP, their details are not passed on to anyone in their public entity.
To meet the challenges facing Victoria, our public sector needs high performing, diverse and collaborative leaders who deliver high quality services and outcomes for our community. Each public entity will approach leadership development in light of the specific capability needs and strategic aims of the public entity. Executives should discuss development opportunities with the public entity’s HR unit directly.
Executives may be able to access opportunities to undertake intensive study focused on leadership in the public sector. For example, study programs include the Executive Fellow Programs and Executive Master of Public Administration oﬀered by the Australia and New Zealand School of Government. VPSC and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) have adapted the Company Directors Course to the public sector. Further information on the Company Directors Course for the Victorian Public Sector is available on the VPSC website.
Diverse and inclusive culture
A diverse public sector is best equipped to understand, value and deliver for the Victorian community. Current Whole of Victorian Government strategies are focused on increasing the low representation and improving employment experiences of Aboriginal employees, those with a disability, LGBTI employees and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD).
Executives play a signiﬁcant role in improving and driving inclusion across the sector. The VPSC website lists current diversity programs and initiatives and executives are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these.
Executives must seek the approval of their employer before engaging in any outside employment. The opportunity exists for executives to seek a leave of absence to undertake outside work that contributes to their professional development. Executives may also be able to undertake other secondary work unrelated to their position (so long as there is agreement with the employer). Executives must ensure that there is no direct or indirect conﬂict of interest arising from the secondary work they undertake (refer to Section 3.2 – Conﬂict of interest).
Health and wellbeing
The employer may require an executive to undergo and satisfactorily pass a medical examination by a qualified medical practitioner (at the employer’s expense). Check with the employer’s HR unit for details on how to access a medical check. A medical check entitlement should not be ‘cashed in’ or used for expenses such gym memberships.