It is a NSW Government requirement for public officials to obtain permission from their agency head to undertake outside work (also known as secondary employment). Council employees must also not engage in private work that relates to the business of the council or that might conflict with their council duties unless they have notified the general manager in writing of the work.
Outside employment creates significant conflict of interest risks, especially if the outside employment has not been declared. All agencies should have an outside employment policy although, depending on the significance of the risk and the size of the organisation, this may just be an element of the code of conduct.
Unauthorised outside employment is particularly risky when it is in the same sector as the employee’s public position (for example, an IT manager working with a private IT consultancy). This is because of the potential for release of confidential information and bias in the making of discretionary decisions during the course of the public official’s work in the public sector.
|Public official engages in secondary employment despite a conflict of interest and knowing it was a breach of policy
The conflict of interest arose because the public official was in a position where they could exercise their official functions to improperly influence the procurement process in favour of a company with which they were engaged in secondary employment. The public official either did not seek permission to engage in secondary employment when required or, when they did, omitted highly material information, provided false and misleading information, and did not declare any conflict of interest.
In that same matter, the public official was also found to have provided confidential information that they had secured in connection with their official duties to two suppliers to assist them to secure contracts for, or related to, projects they were interested in.
Source: Investigation into allegations that a manager at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) solicited and accepted money, gifts and other benefits from UTS contractors, March 2013.
Outside employment is often subject to restrictive conditions, particularly in some occupations. Outside employment for staff involved in high corruption-risk roles, such as planning, procurement and licensing, is often discouraged or totally prohibited. Some organisations even require declarations of volunteer activities for certain personnel.
Updated November 2018
Developing a strategy