The Government Sector Employment Act 2013 (GSE Act) establishes two main employment groups: the government sector and the Public Service within it.

The GSE Act applies to the Public Service, but only parts of it apply to the other services within the government sector. Furthermore, some agencies are not part of the government sector, and the GSE Act does not apply to them at all.

Section 3 of the GSE Act defines the government sector, and Section 5 lists (with some exceptions) the people to whom the Act does not apply. Schedule 1 lists all the Public Service agencies, of which there are three different types: Departments, executive agencies related to a Department, and separate Public Service agencies.

There are different governance arrangements for agencies in the Public Service, the government sector and the non-government sector. Governance is a broad term for the systems and structures by which an agency is directed, controlled and operated, and the mechanisms by which it and the people within it are held to account.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet's (DPC's) NSW Public Sector Governance Framework covers the key issues to consider when determining the appropriate governance arrangements and government controls that should apply to NSW Government functions. It also classifies agencies into entity types based on function; ministerial direction and control; legal structure; financial and asset management controls; and staff employment. A record of each agency’s entity type is included in the DPC GOView database.

The NSW government sector

The GSE Act establishes two main employment groups: the government sector, and the Public Service within it. Most government employees are in the government sector.

The GSE Act defines the government sector as comprising:

  • the Public Service
  • the Teaching Service
  • the NSW Police Force
  • the NSW Health Service
  • the Transport Service of New South Wales
  • any other service of the Crown (including the service of any NSW government agency)
  • any other service prescribed under the GSE Act for the purpose of the definition.

The following is a visual depiction of the government sector:

The structure of the NSW government sector

Snapshot of the Public Service

The Public Service is one of the services within the government sector; it comprises Departments, executive agencies related to a Department and separate Public Service agencies listed in the Schedule 1 of the GSE Act (Parts 1 – 3). The list may change from time to time depending on the machinery of government arrangements. People employed in these groups of agencies are Public Service employees; the GSE Act applies to all Public Service employees.

Each Department listed in Part 1 of Schedule 1 (see below) is headed by a Secretary, the most senior of whom is the Secretary of the DPC. The nine secretaries, the Public Service Commissioner and the Police Commissioner comprise the ‘Secretaries Board’, the key leadership group for the government sector. The following Departments are headed by a Secretary:

  • Department of Customer Service 
  • Department of Communities and Justice
  • Department of Education
  • Ministry of Health
  • Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
  • Department of Premier and Cabinet
  • Department of Regional NSW
  • Department of Transport
  • The Treasury.

Snapshot of other services

Employees of the Teaching Service, the NSW Police Force, the NSW Health Service, the Transport Service of New South Wales, other Crown services and other prescribed bodies are government sector employees.

Only certain parts of the GSE Act apply to government sector employees; other legislation - such as the Teaching Service Act 1980, the Police Act 1990, the Health Services Act 1997 and the Transport Administration Act 1988 - set out their employment arrangements.

Some GSE Act provisions apply to all government sector employees, including those concerning:

  • the ethical framework for the government sector (Part 2)
  • workforce diversity (Part 5), which includes:
    • provisions covering workforce diversity (Section 63), which apply to the government sector including state owned corporations. (SOCs)
    • employee transfers and secondments (Section 64)
    • cross-agency employment (Section 65)
    • temporary assignments (Section 66)
    • performance management systems (Section 67)
    • unsatisfactory performance (Section 68)
    • misconduct (Section 69), if the agency is prescribed for this section.

Some of these provisions - like Section 63 above - extend beyond the government sector to include, for example, SOCs. Others do not apply to all the government sector employees.

Exclusions from the government sector

Some people, due to the unique and independent nature of their functions, are expressly excluded from the government sector. With a few exceptions, the GSE Act does not apply to them. This includes judicial officers as well as officers or employees of either House of Parliament. Staff members of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Judicial Commission of NSW, and the Audit Office of NSW are also outside the government sector; each of these agencies has specific employment provisions in its enabling legislation.

For most purposes, SOCs are also outside the government sector. However, some specific provisions of the GSE Act do apply to SOCs; for example, those relating to workforce diversity in workforce planning, employee transfer and secondment arrangements, and provisions for employees contesting elections. SOCs may also be brought within the government sector for other purposes, as prescribed by a regulation under the GSE Act; for example, to provide workforce data to the Public Service Commissioner.

Machinery of government changes

When a change to the Ministry occurs or an administrative responsibility is transferred from one portfolio to another, the Governor - on recommendation of the Premier - makes an administrative arrangements order to give effect to that change.

Administrative arrangements orders are published on the NSW Legislation website and will:

  • allocate the administration of legislation to each Ministerial portfolio
  • establish, abolish or change the name of any relevant Public Service agency within a portfolio
  • move groups of employees of Public Service agencies between Public Service agencies.

Agencies affected by an administrative arrangements order work collaboratively with other affected agencies to ensure an orderly transition to the new arrangements.

Further information