Developing a strategy

The purpose of having an outside employment strategy is to mitigate the risks outlined below.

  • Working in multiple jobs can give rise to a conflict of interest in which the employee potentially benefits from placing their private business interests before those of their public sector employer.

  • Public resources or information can be misused for outside employment purposes. Misuse may take several forms, including of work time, of client information or of physical and other resources, such as intellectual property, computers and telephones.

  • Outside employment might affect personal health and welfare, potentially diminishing the official’s performance in the public job, reducing the agency’s delivery of services.

There are precedents for a complete prohibition on outside employment for some public sector positions. In 2008, in response to an ICAC recommendation, a transport agency prohibited all employees involved in procurement from obtaining secondary employment with suppliers involved in the provision of goods and services of a type procured by the organisation.

When developing an outside employment policy, organisations should carefully consider when outside employment is acceptable. An effective policy will take into account the nature of the organisation’s core business and operating environment.

An effective outside employment policy will:

  • make the policy’s intent and purpose clear, and set out the categories of people the policy covers (for example, full-time and part-time permanent and temporary employees, third-party contractors, consultants or volunteers)

  • be consistent with the organisation’s code of conduct and conflict of interest policy

  • set a maximum period of approval for outside employment (for example, 12 months)

  • establish rules around implementing the policy, such as mandatory declarations, the managerial level at which approval can be given and regular reviews of prior approvals

  • set out an employee’s responsibilities (such as completing and submitting an application for approval)

  • set out a manager’s responsibilities (such as decision-making and documenting reasons for approval or rejection)

  • describe the sanctions for any breach of the policy and procedures.

The policy might also summarise key foundation principles. For example, outside employment must not:

  • conflict with the employee’s public duties

  • be undertaken during an employee’s agency work time

  • involve the use of public resources (including information)

  • adversely affect the performance of the employee.

Such principles can help guide decisions about whether the outside employment should be permitted or not.

From time-to-time, organisations engage third-party contractors or consultants. While it may be difficult to restrict them from undertaking outside employment, organisations can require third-parties to sign a declaration indicating if they are currently engaged in additional outside employment for other organisations (which may give rise to a potential conflict of interest).

Consider the following measures:

  • maintain records of all outside employment applications and approvals, including the projected hours of work

  • regularly remind employees of their statutory obligations in relation to outside employment

  • regularly audit the attendance records of all employees granted permission to undertake outside employment

  • restrict or prohibit outside employment for employees in certain high corruption-risk positions, such as procurement and contract management, commensurate with the risks of corruption

  • design a process for consulting centralised outside employment records when procurement or recruitment panels are being convened to ensure that employees with related interests are not members of panels

  • inform relevant contractors to the agency about outside employment restrictions on agency employees

  • randomly audit the outside employment declarations of employees to ensure that they are current and complete

  • conduct searches via the Australian Securities and Investments Commission in relation to company directorships on targeted employees.