About the code

Why the department has a code of conduct, to whom it applies, the expected conduct, and what might happen if the code is breached.

More about the code

The aim of this Code is to establish a common understanding of the standards of behaviour expected of all employees of the Department of Education and Training.

This Code does not attempt to provide a detailed and exhaustive list of what to do in every aspect of your work. Instead, it represents a broad framework that will help you decide on an appropriate course of action when you are faced with an ethical issue.

While 'the Department' is often referred to as one entity responsible for decisions and outcomes, the reality is it is a large and complex organization that achieves good outcomes when employees exercise sound judgement in fulfilling the duties of their particular roles. This also requires managers to supervise, support and provide training to staff.

The Code places an obligation on all of us to take responsibility for our own conduct and work with colleagues cooperatively to establish consultative and collaborative workplaces where people are happy and proud to work.

This Code of Conduct applies to all employees of the NSW Department of Education and Training, including the TAFE NSW whether employed on a permanent, temporary or casual basis. It also applies to members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) who must also comply with the current Code of Conduct and Ethics for Public Sector Executives.

Therefore, you must:

  • engage in personal or professional conduct that upholds the reputation of the Department
  • apply the Department's policies and procedures
  • act ethically and responsibly, and
  • be accountable for your actions and decisions.

Contractors and volunteers

Contractors, consultants and volunteers working with the Department of Education and Training must be aware of this Code and act in line with the conduct described in it. While contractors, consultants and volunteers are not subject to disciplinary action, conduct that would be assessed as being a serious breach of the Code of Conduct may result in their contract being terminated.

If you are engaging or managing external consultants, contractors or volunteers, it is your responsibility to make them aware of the Department's expectations of conduct during the period of their engagement. It is also your responsibility to take the necessary action to address any concerns about their conduct

As an employee, you should be aware of the Department's policies, procedures and delegations, particularly those that apply to your work. Many of these are available online; others may be made available to you through induction and training and development programs. If you are uncertain about the scope or content of a policy with which you must comply, you should seek clarification from your supervisor or the policy owner. You should also be familiar with the legislation under which you are employed as this may specify requirements with which you need to comply. Managers are required to tell their staff about this essential information and to make the documents readily accessible to them.

As a departmental employee, you are expected to:

  • perform your duties to the best of your ability and be accountable for your performance
  • follow reasonable instructions given by a supervisor
  • comply with a lawful direction
  • carry out your duties in a professional, competent and conscientious manner, while seeking suitable opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills, including through participation in relevant professional development
  • act honestly and in good faith in providing advice or service that is honest, impartial and comprehensive, irrespective of your personal views on a matter
  • be courteous and responsive in dealing with your colleagues, students and members of the public
  • work collaboratively with your colleagues
  • be mindful of your duty to the safety of yourself and others and
  • be aware that if your conduct has the potential to damage the reputation of the Department, even if it is in a private capacity, this could lead to disciplinary action.

If your role requires you to manage or supervise staff, in addition to the above responsibilities you are also expected to:

  • promote collaborative and collegial workplaces by developing a positive working environment in which all employees can contribute to the ongoing development of the Department
  • exercise leadership by working with your staff to implement performance and development processes that are consistent with the employee's conditions of employment
  • provide ongoing support and feedback to your staff
  • establish systems within your area of responsibility which support effective communication and consult with and involve your staff in appropriate decision-making
  • take appropriate action if a breach of the Code of Conduct may have occurred.

At times, you may not personally agree with all decisions made by your managers. You may also have personal views that differ from those of the elected Government or the Department's management. However, your views should not interfere or be seen to interfere with the performance of your duties; nor can they take precedence over the Department's or Government policy and decisions.

You are required to comply with reasonable instructions related to your work. If you consider an instruction unreasonable, you should say so to the person issuing the instruction in a civil manner, giving your reasons for concern and allowing the person an opportunity to respond.

If, after the response, you are still concerned or object to the instruction, you may seek advice at the next management level. You are not prevented from seeking the advice of your Union at any time.

Managers should be open to constructive questions regarding their instructions. They have a responsibility to respond appropriately and promote collaborative and collegial workplaces.

An example of good management practice is a supervisor who identifies an employee's skill levels by observing their work and regularly provides useful, positive feedback. A good supervisor deals with any issues early, provides feedback sensitively and constructively, and in negotiation with the employee, develops strategies that address any concerns in a positive fashion.

As a departmental employee, you hold a position of trust and are accountable for your actions.

Consequences of inappropriate behaviour and breaches of this Code are described in the various employment legislation and regulations, and in the corresponding guidelines.

If you are a supervisor or manager, you have a responsibility to address a possible breach of the Code of Conduct by any employee as soon as you become aware of it. Each case should be determined on the facts and circumstances when deciding on the appropriate action to take, including reporting of serious matters and those where an employee has failed to follow a reasonable direction.

Other employees must also report possible breaches by colleagues to their supervisor or manager. If the possible breach is by their supervisor or manager then it should be reported to the next in line of management.

The options, to consider when deciding what action to take include:

  • the seriousness of the breach
  • the likelihood of the breach occurring again
  • whether the officer has committed the breach more than once
  • the risk the breach poses to employees, students or any others, and
  • whether the breach would be serious enough to warrant formal disciplinary action.

Actions that may apply to proven (after investigation) breaches of the Code can include management or remedial action, or disciplinary action ranging from a caution and reprimand to dismissal from the Department.

The outcome of criminal proceedings against employees may be considered as possible breaches of the Code of Conduct and action, including disciplinary action, may be taken.

Procedural fairness requires a decision-maker to:

  • inform you of the allegations made against you
  • give you an opportunity to respond, and
  • not have a personal interest in the outcome.


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