Public Sector Lawyers & Public Sector Employment Law

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In Australia, public sector employees have certain employment conditions and fall under some different employment awards/legislation compared to private sector employees. Each State and Territory can also legislate their own laws related to the public sector employees.

If you have any questions about public sector employment law or employment contracts, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Owen Hodge’s experienced public sector lawyers.

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The public sector is composed of all levels of government and government-controlled enterprises. It does not include private companies or voluntary organisations.

Public sector employees are employed at all levels of the government, from the Federal, State, and local levels to special districts. They represent a wide variety of public employees, including law enforcement officers, fire fighters, teachers, school employees, local government employees and many more.

Public employees are recruited, appointed, or chosen for the civil service on the basis of their merit. The public sector generally follows rigid hiring guidelines. A specific number of qualified candidates are interviewed across months before hiring takes place in any public sector organisation.

What are some examples of public employers?

In Australia, some examples of government and public sector employers include:

  • Department of Defence
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • Department of Health

To name a few, the major Federal laws relating to public sector employee include:

In New South Wales, the major public sector employment law is the Public Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Act 2006.

Generally, the legislation in the Commonwealth and in the States follows a standard pattern of substantial prescription. For example, the Public Service Act 2009 gives detailed substantive rules and processes for the structure of the service, job classifications and appointment of the majority of staff to ‘offices’. The Public Service Act 2009 also outlines how discipline and dismissal are subject to due process and there is also an appeal system for promotions.

The Public Service Commission

The Public Service Commission recognises the rights of public sector employees and also re-addresses their employment grievances. The Public Service Commission is set up in all States with the goal to establish a regulation framework for the public sector thereby enabling agencies to deliver responsive government services to the community in an ethical and accountable manner.

If you have any questions about government employment, please get in contact with Owen Hodge’s public sector lawyers.

Public sector employees have comparatively greater protections in their job than those in the private sector. They have additional protections covered under the Public Sector Employment Legislation Amendment Act 2006 and the Public Sector Employment and Management Amendment (Extended Leave) Act 2005

Some of the special protections include:

Due process

Many government employees (those who have obtained “tenure,” civil service protection, or otherwise become “permanent” employees) have a constitutionally protected interest in not being terminated or disciplined without due process.

If you are a public employee facing a termination of employment, Owen Hodge’s experienced public sector lawyers can help ensure your workplace rights are met and respond to any allegations of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance.

First amendment

The Government cannot retaliate against its employees for speaking out on matters of public concern beyond the scope of their job duties.

Equal protection

The Government cannot treat similarly situated employees differently without a legitimate reason or in an arbitrary or contrary manner.


No discrimination against public sector employees because of union activity or membership, sexual orientation, genetic information or gender expression.

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Have questions about the above special protections? Owen Hodge’s public sector lawyers are here to help.

Get in touch with Owen Hodge’s public sector lawyers

At Owen Hodge, our public sector lawyers represent many civil servants, law enforcement officers, and other public sector employees. If you are a public sector employee facing dismissal, disciplinary action, a workplace investigation or a similar matter, we can assist you.

Additionally, if you need assistance with understanding Federal, State or local government employment law, please get in touch today on 1800 770 780. Our employment lawyers have experience dealing with all government sector employment regulations and laws.

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Owen Hodge is here to help

If you’re a public sector employee or employer and require legal advice, you can turn to the public sector lawyers at Owen Hodge. Get in touch today.

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Employment Law Team