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Non-Ongoing Employment 
Legislation 
This page sets out the basic legislative requirements for engaging persons on a non-ongoing (temporary) basis in the APS under the Public Service Act 1999
Key 
  Public Service Act 1999—PS Act 
  Public Service Regulations 1999—Regulations 
  Australian Public Service Commissioner's Directions 2022—Directions 
 
Topic 
Legislation 
1. Power to employ 
An Agency Head, on behalf of the Commonwealth, may engage persons as employees for the purposes of the 
PS Act s22(1) 
agency. 
2. Term of employment 
PS Act s22(2) 
The engagement of an APS employee must be: 
PS Act s10A(1)(b) 

Non-Ongoing Employment Legislation 
 
Topic 
Legislation 
1.  as an ongoing employee; or 
2.  for a specified term or specified task (temporary); or 
3.  for duties that are irregular or intermittent (casual). 
The usual basis for engagement in the APS is as an ongoing employee. 
Time Limits 
Under prescribed circumstances: 

Regulations 3.5(4) 
  Non-SES and SES employees can be engaged on a specified term basis for an initial period of up to 18 
months. This can be extended to a total maximum period of three years. 
Directions s27 
  Where a temporary SES position has been advertised on APSJobs, it can be filled for a total maximum 
Regulations 3.4 
period of 5 years, either initially, or as the result of an extension. 
There are no time limits on specified task employment or casual employment. 
3.Recruitment 
Opportunity to Apply 
PS Act s10(2)(a) 
A temporary vacancy that is for 18 months or less, or duties that are casual, do not need to be advertised 
in the Public Service Gazette (the Gazette). However, to comply with the provisions of merit, as far as 
Directions s5 and  
practicable, eligible members of the community must be given a reasonable opportunity to apply. 
Jobs for a period of more than 18 months must be advertised in the Gazette. 
 
 
Australian Public Service Commission 

 

Non-Ongoing Employment Legislation 
 
Topic 
Legislation 
Assessment of Applicants 
For temporary employment of 18 months or less, as a minimum requirement, an Agency Head must be 
Directions s27 
satisfied that the person has the work-related qualities required to perform the duties. 
4.Engagement for a Specified Term 
Non-SES 
A person may be engaged as a non-SES employee for a specified term if: 
Regulations 3.5(3)(a),(d) 
and (e) 
1.  the duties are required for a limited time 
Regulations 3.5(4)(a) 
2.  the person prefers to be engaged as a temporary employee, or 
Regulations 3.5(3)(b) and 
3.  the person is currently an ongoing Parliamentary Service employee*. 
(c) 
The initial engagement must be for a period that is reasonable estimate of the time during which the duties 
Regulations 3.5(6) 
will be performed, and is not more than 18 months. 
* There are three other circumstances prescribed in the Regulations where a person may be engaged as a temporary non-SES 
employee. These are limited in scope and are rarely used. 
SES 
A person may be engaged as an SES employee for a specified term of up to 5 years, if the initial vacancy was 
Regulations 3.4 
advertised in the Gazette. 
Directions s27 
Where an SES vacancy is not advertised in the Gazette, the initial period of engagement can only be 18 
Directions s29 
months or less, with the possibility of an extension to a total maximum period of three years. 
 
 
Australian Public Service Commission 

 

Non-Ongoing Employment Legislation 
 
Topic 
Legislation 
Ongoing to non-ongoing 
An ongoing non-SES or SES employee may resign their ongoing employment in order to be engaged as 
temporary employee for a specified term at the same classification level. This is primarily intended to 
facilitate transition to retirement. 
5. Extending a period of specified term employment 
Non SES 
A period of specified term employment for a non-SES employee may be extended beyond the initial 
nominated end date where: 
1.  there is a continuing need for the duties 
2.
Regulations 3.5(4)(b)(c) 
  the person is performing satisfactorily 
3.
Directions s27(2) 
  the Agency Head is satisfied that it is still appropriate that the duties be performed on a non-ongoing 
basis, and 
Regulations 3.5(5) 
4.  the Agency Head is satisfied that the extension will contribute to efficient and effective organisational 
performance. 
For non-SES employees, the total period of engagement, including extensions, must not exceed three years. 
The Australian Public Service Commissioner may authorise an extension beyond the 3 year limit, for no more 
than 12 additional months, where they are satisfied that special circumstances exist. 
SES 
Regulations 3.4 (3) 
 
 
Australian Public Service Commission 

 

Non-Ongoing Employment Legislation 
 
Topic 
Legislation 
A period of specified term employment for an SES employee may be extended beyond the initial nominated 
Directions s27 
end date, provided the total term of employment does not exceed: 
  five years—where the initial vacancy was advertised on APSJobs 
  three years—where the initial vacancy was not advertised on APSJobs 
6. Engagement for a specific task 
There are no time limits on specified task employment. However, where a specified task may be for more 
than 18 months, it must be advertised in the Gazette. 
Regulations 3.5(2) 
Before engaging a person for a specified task, an Agency Head must be satisfied that the services of the 
Directions s27 
person are unlikely to be required after the task is complete. The Agency Head must also be able to make a 
reasonable estimate of the duration of the task. 
7. Engagement on a casual basis 
A person may be engaged on an irregular or intermittent basis. This is sometimes referred to as casual 
PS Act s22(2)(c) 
employment. These duties are usually required to be undertaken for one-off short term tasks, duties where 
there is no regular pattern of work. 
8. Terminating temporary employment  
PS Act s29(1) 
An Agency Head may terminate the employment of a temporary employee at any time by notice in writing. 
 
 
Australian Public Service Commission 

 

Non-Ongoing Employment Legislation 
 
Topic 
Legislation 
Provisions in relation to termination of temporary employment are often included in agency enterprise 
agreements or individual employment contracts. This can include arrangements for compensation where 
employment is terminated by an agency before the nominated end date or completion of a specified task. 
In any case, where employment is terminated early, the person may be entitled to notice of termination and 
redundancy pay in accordance with the National Employment Standards (NES). While this sets a minimum 
Fair Work Act 2009 s117 
requirement, compensation for early termination must also be reasonable and take account of individual 
and s119 
employment circumstances. 
 
 
 
Australian Public Service Commission