Minor misconduct by public officers

The Public Sector Commission has a role under the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003 to ensure minor misconduct matters are dealt with in an appropriate way.

Anyone can report suspected minor misconduct by a public officer to the Public Sector Commission.

A ‘principal officer’ (generally a chief executive officer or director general) must notify the Public Sector Commission of suspected minor misconduct by a public officer.

What is minor misconduct?

When we assess allegations of misconduct, we apply the strict legislated definitions of minor misconduct in Section 4(d) of the Corruption, Crime and Misconduct Act 2003 (CCM Act).

As a guide, minor misconduct by a public officer includes:

  • behaviour that is not honest and impartial
  • misuse of information they have access to in their role for personal benefit
  • breaches of trust placed with an employee by their employer.

Additionally, to be considered minor misconduct the conduct could provide reasonable grounds for the public officer’s employment to be terminated as part of a disciplinary process.

What is not minor misconduct?

Conduct below the threshold

Behaviours and actions by a public officer below the threshold of minor misconduct explained above are not considered to be minor misconduct.

As a guide, if you disagree with a decision of a public authority or the customer service you received, you can make a complaint to that authority or contact the WA Ombudsman for further advice.

Serious misconduct

Conduct of a kind described as serious misconduct in section 4(a), (b) and (c) of the CCM Act is not considered to be minor misconduct.

This includes corrupt conduct by a public officer, either deliberate or by failing to act in the course of their duties; a public officer corruptly taking advantage of their role or causing detriment to another person while performing their role; or conduct of a public officer that may result in a criminal offence punishable by 2 or more years of imprisonment.

The Corruption and Crime Commission deals with serious misconduct.

Who is in the Commission’s jurisdiction?

Public officers within the Public Sector Commission’s jurisdiction include all public sector employees, members of government boards and committees, local government employees, employees of public universities and employees of public utilities.

We are not permitted to review allegations of minor misconduct for WA Police Force employees, elected members in state and local governments, and clerks of the houses of Parliament.

The Corruption and Crime Commission is responsible for dealing with alleged misconduct of these officers.

How does the Public Sector Commission deal with allegations of minor misconduct?

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In general, we have a monitoring and review function. It is often appropriate for a matter to be handled by the public authority themselves. We investigate a limited number of matters.

We assess each matter as quickly as possible and let you know by email or letter what action we intend to take.

Following our assessment, we may:

  • refer the matter to the relevant public authority to manage
  • refer the matter to the relevant public authority for it to manage but we monitor the process undertaken and/or the outcome reached
  • refer the matter to the Corruption and Crime Commission or other appropriate authority
  • investigate the matter using powers available to the Public Sector Commissioner
  • investigate the matter in collaboration with the Corruption and Crime Commission or other appropriate authority
  • take no further action.

Information for individuals

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Minor misconduct checklist

Essential information before you submit a report about your allegation.

  1. Consider your allegation against the definition of minor misconduct. We can only consider allegations that meet this definition. If your allegation is below the threshold for minor misconduct you can make a complaint to that authority. The WA Ombudsman may be able to help if you have a complaint about administrative decision making.
  2. Your allegation needs to identify a public officer, not a department/agency/authority generally.
  3. Your allegation is not simply disagreement about a decision or dissatisfaction about customer service.
  4. You have a reasonable suspicion that the conduct has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur. You do not need proof but you do need to explain the reasons for your suspicion.
  5. You understand that making a deliberately false or misleading report of minor misconduct carries significant penalties under legislation.

How to make a report

  1. Gather all available information about the suspected misconduct including:    
  • name and position of person/s and where they work
  • date and/or time alleged misconduct occurred
  • brief description of your allegation and why you think the behaviour is minor misconduct
  • if you have spoken to any other oversight agency about the allegation and when you did so.
  1. Consider if you will provide your name and contact details with your report.
  • Providing your details enables us to contact you if we need more information or to clarify an aspect of your report.
  • Providing your details also enables us to inform you about the outcome of your report once it is finalised.
  • Be aware that we may need to share your name and contact details and the report you make with the Corruption and Crime Commission or other appropriate authority for an allegation to be properly considered. In these instances, we cannot guarantee your anonymity.
  • If you do decide to make an anonymous report, it is important to provide as much information as possible as we are not able to get back in touch with you for more detail.
  1. Create and submit your report by:

Information for public authorities

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A ‘principal officer’ (generally a chief executive officer or director general) must notify the Public Sector Commission of suspected minor misconduct by a public officer by:

Notifying misconduct: A guide for principal officers of notifying authorities has information on obligations under the CCM Act, what should be included in a notification, and steps in processing allegations of misconduct raised with or in an authority.

Contact the Public Sector Commission

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Telephone the Public Sector Commission’s Integrity Advisory Service on (08) 6552 8888 if you need initial advice.

Page reviewed 11 August 2022