Civil service management code introduction

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November 2016


Section 1.1 Recruitment
Section 1.2 Working Arrangements
Section 1.3 Probation
Section 1.4 Letters of Appointment and Information on Pensions
Section 1.5 Fast Stream Development Programme
Section 1.6 Appointment and Management of Specialists
Section 1.7 Re-appointment: Reinstatement and Re-employment

Section 2.1 Policy

Section 3.1 Health and Safety

Section 4.1 Conduct: General Principles and Rules
Section 4.2 Conduct: Confidentiality and Official Information
Section 4.3 Conduct: Standards of Propriety
Annex A: The Business Appointment Rules for Civil Servants
Section 4.4 Conduct: Political Activities
Annex A: Guidelines and Principles on Participation in Political Activities
Section 4.5 Discipline: Rules and Code of Practice
Annex A: Recovery of Losses to Public Funds

Section 5.1 General
Section 5.2 The SASC Group
Section 5.3 Senior Civil Service Terms and Conditions

Section 6.1 Grading and Classification of Staff
Section 6.2 Personal Review
Section 6.3 Poor Performance: Inefficiency and Limited Efficiency
Section 6.4 Promotion and Lateral Transfers

Section 7.1 Remuneration of Staff
Annex A: Senior Civil Service Pay Framework
Annex B: Allowances for Members of the Senior Civil Service
Section 7.2 Advances of Pay
Section 7.3 Voluntary Deductions from Pay
Section 7.4 Rent for Government-Owned Properties

Section 8.1 Reimbursement of Expenses
Section 8.2 Travel
Section 8.3 Relocation
Section 8.4 Compensation for Loss or Damage to Personal Property
Section 8.5 Concessionary Arrangements for Staff Working in Northern Ireland
Section 8.6 Overseas Expenses

Section 9.1 Hours of Work

Section 9.2 Holidays and Attendance
Section 9.3 Maternity, Paternity and Shared Parental Leave Arrangements
Section 9.4 Attendance during National Emergencies
Section 9.5 Sick Absence
Section 9.6 Injury, Disease or Assault at Work.

Section 10.1 Mobility
Section 10.2 Transfer of Staff between Departments and Agencies
Section 10.3 Secondment
Section 10.4 Service with the European Institutions

Section 11.1 Notice and References
Section 11.2 Action Before Leaving the Civil Service
Section 11.3 Normal Retirement Age
Section 11.4 Dismissal for Inefficiency
Section 11.5 Early Retirement or Severance
Section 11.6 Compulsory Early Retirement or Severance
Section 11.7 Flexible Early Retirement or Severance
Section 11.8 Approved Early Retirement
Section 11.9 Actuarially Reduced Retirement
Section 11.10 Medical Retirement

Section 12.1 Appeals
Section 12.2 Legal Representation at Public Expense


  1. This Code is issued under the authority of Part 1 of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 under which the Minister for the Civil Service has the power to make regulations and give instructions for the management of the Civil Service, including the power to prescribe the conditions of service of civil servants.

  1. This Code, on which the recognised trade unions have been consulted, sets out regulations and instructions to departments and agencies regarding the terms and conditions of service of civil servants and the delegations which have been made by the Minister for the Civil Service under the Civil Service (Management Functions) Act 1992 to Ministers and office holders in charge of departments, the First Minister in the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government, together with conditions attaching to those delegations. For convenience, the term “departments and agencies” has been used in the context of delegation throughout the Code. It includes the Scottish Administration and the Welsh Assembly Government. Where departments and agencies are given discretion to determine terms and conditions, the Code sets out the rules and principles which must be adhered to in the exercise of those discretions. It does not of itself set out terms and conditions of service. In the case of agencies, the presumption is that functions delegated to Ministers and office holders will, in respect of agencies, be exercised by Agency Chief Executives, but the precise extent to which Ministers and office holders may wish to allow the exercise of their powers by Chief Executives is a matter for them to determine.

  1. Ministers and office holders in charge of departments, the First Minister of the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly Government have been given the authority:

    1. to prescribe the qualifications (so far as they relate to age, knowledge, ability, professional attainment, aptitude and potential, health and coping with the demands of the job) for the appointment of home civil servants (with the exception of the Fast Stream Development Programme) in their respective departments; and

    1. to determine the number and grading of posts outside the Senior Civil Service in their respective departments and the terms and conditions of employment of civil servants in so far as they relate to the following:

      1. classification of staff, with the exception of the Senior Civil Service;

      1. remuneration, with the exception of the Senior Civil Service;

      1. allowances;

      1. expenses;

      2. holidays, hours of work and attendance;

      1. part-time and other working arrangements;

      1. performance and promotion;

      2. retirement age, with the exception of the Senior Civil Service;

      1. redundancy;

      1. re-deployment and lateral transfer of staff within the Civil Service.

  1. This delegation (which revokes all previous delegations) is made subject to the condition that recipients of delegation comply with the provisions of this Code as amended from time to time. However, it does not remove the obligation on departments and agencies to submit to the Cabinet Office proposals or arrangements which are contentious, or raise questions of propriety. Departments and agencies are reminded that the Government is committed to maintaining the reputation of the Civil Service as a good employer. The terms and conditions of civil servants must be determined with regard to:

the general practice of large employers; value for money; and the provisions of “Government Accounting”.

  1. Departments and agencies must comply fully with legislation which binds the Crown or which Ministers1 have undertaken to apply as if it were binding on the Crown. They must define clearly the terms and conditions of service of their staff and make these available to staff, for example in departmental or agency handbooks. Where departments and agencies have delegated powers or discretion, they must make clear to their staff how these will be applied by setting out the relevant rules and procedures in their handbooks.

  1. When exercising the delegated powers permitted by this Code, departments and agencies should remember that existing rights cannot be altered arbitrarily. They must observe any legal constraints upon them as employers, consulting as necessary with their staff and the recognised trade unions. Any questions of possible detriment occasioned by the application of their delegated powers should be resolved locally. If uncertainty over entitlement is an issue, managers should consult their legal advisers and, if necessary, the Cabinet Office.

  1. The Cabinet Office retains the right to inspect and monitor observance of this Code in departments and agencies, but the aim is to keep such inspection and monitoring to the minimum level consistent with central responsibilities.

  1. Subsequent changes to the central regulations and instructions (including any future delegations) will be issued electronically as amendments to this Code, and will need to be reflected promptly in departments’ or agencies’ regulations for their own staff. In all cases, the Cabinet Office will make clear the effective date of any change affecting staff Service-wide.

1The reference to Ministers used throughout the code include Scottish Ministers and the First Secretary and Assembly Secretaries of the National Assembly for Wales.
© Brief extracts (i.e. no more than ten per cent of the text) may be copied for in-house use only. Copies of longer extracts or for external use require the prior written permission of HMSO.

1.1 Recruitment
1.1.1 Within the framework laid down by the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 and the Recruitment Principles issued by the Civil Service Commission (, departments and agencies have authority to:

  1. determine their practices and procedures for the recruitment of staff to the Civil Service; and

  1. prescribe qualifications for appointment to positions in their organisation relating to age, knowledge, ability, professional attainment, aptitude, potential, health and coping with the demands of the job.

These delegations are subject to the following conditions.


  1. Departments and agencies must:

    1. ensure that their recruitment systems deliver recruits who are appropriate to their needs and who are able to do the work required subject to reasonable adjustments under the terms of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995; and

    1. retain for at least 12 months records of the recruitment criteria in use and of the performance of successful candidates.

Senior Civil Service
1.1.3 Top 200 posts are defined as SCS Payband 3 and above. For appointments to the Top 200 (see section 5.2), departments and agencies must follow the Top 200 protocols published by the Cabinet Office.
Fast Stream Development Programme
1.1.4 Qualifications for appointment to the Fast Stream Development Programme are set out in Section 1.5.
Checks before appointment
1.1.5 Before an unconditional offer of appointment is made, checks must be satisfactorily completed to ensure that a candidate does meet the qualifications for appointment.
1.1.6 Departments and agencies must be satisfied that recruits are able to show that they will be able to give satisfactory service in the future and that nothing in their more recent past is likely to bring discredit upon the department or agency or the Civil Service in general. This is separate from any security clearance that may be necessary. Account must be taken of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the Exceptions Order 1975 (amended in 1986) as appropriate.

1.1.7 The Civil Service nationality rules are statutorily based and must therefore before followed in recruiting and appointing. They are available, together with guidance on checking eligibility, at
Serving staff and open competitions

  1. Serving civil servants who meet the specified qualifications for appointment must be allowed to apply for open competitions in any department or agency, including their own. Common standards of selection must apply to both in-service and external candidates. Departments and agencies may exempt serving staff who were recruited through fair and open competition and have completed their initial probation from any requirements for educational or vocational qualifications which are required of non-Civil Service candidates; their relevant experience inside the Civil Service may be taken into account instead.

  1. Management may reject applications from staff already serving elsewhere in the same department (or any of its agencies) where the candidate’s level transfer from the existing post would conflict with wider departmental/agency interests or objectives.

  1. If a serving civil servant receives and accepts an offer of appointment following open competition, the parent department or agency must release him or her within three months of being notified of the accepted offer.

  1. Former civil servants serving on Government committees but doing no other Civil Service work must be treated as office holders and not as re-appointments to the Civil Service.

1.1.12 Departments and agencies will wish to be aware of the following Cabinet Office guidance at

  1. Personnel Information Note (PIN) 7 about the various ways to establish candidates’ suitability for recruitment to a particular post or grade;

  1. PIN 39 (Revised) on health standards for recruitment and access to the full risk benefits of the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme; and

  1. PIN 44 which draws attention to the possible risk of legal challenge if departments and agencies specify a requirement for a particular qualification in English Language (such as a GCSE or equivalent).

1.2 Working Arrangements
1.2.1 Departments and agencies have authority to determine for their own staff part-time or other working arrangements, as alternatives to full-time permanent appointments, subject to the following conditions.


  1. Departments and agencies must ensure that:

a. recruitment is in accordance with Section 1.1;

  1. they consult Civil Service Pensions Division, Cabinet Office to determine whether and how the Principal Civil Service Pensions Scheme applies;

  1. they take legal advice about such matters as letters of appointment and whether continuity of service is likely to be established; and

  1. terms and conditions (including pay) for part-time staff are in proportion to those for full-time staff.

Fixed-Term Appointments
1.2.3 Fixed-term appointments are temporary appointments to meet short term needs. Such appointments may be made only where there is a genuine need to employ people for a short period, and must be compliant with the Recruitment Principles (

1.3 Probation
1.3.1 Departments and agencies have authority to determine whether staff should be required to serve a period of probation and the terms of that probation. Any period of probation should not usually exceed two years.

1.4 Letters of Appointment and Information on Pensions

Letters of Appointment

  1. Sections 1 to 7 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 give most employees, including civil servants, the right to receive a written statement of their main terms and conditions within two months of starting work. Departments and agencies must therefore provide such a statement to staff covered by the Act. The contract fulfils this need for members of the Senior Civil Service. (

  1. Personnel Information Note (PIN) 14 (Revised) provides guidance on the drawing up of letters of appointment (

Information on Pensions
1.4.3 Employers should request starter packs for new entrants from St Ives Direct using the DRF1 form or bulk order spreadsheet. Both forms are available to download from the Civil Service pensions website at St Ives Direct can be contacted at –

St Ives Direct

St Ives Westerham

Westerham House

Kent TN8 6EL
Tel: 0870 013 1693
Fax: 0870 013 1694
1.4.4 The pack contains a range of material to enable the new entrant to make an informed choice, including information about the time limits governing transfers of their existing pension. There is also a new entrants’ page giving a step-by-step guide to pension choices on the Civil Service pensions website at

1.5 Fast Stream Development Programme
1.5.1 The Fast Stream provides training and development for people with the potential to achieve rapid promotion off the programme (in accordance with departments’ own grading procedures) and to progress to the Senior Civil Service. It comprises:

  • Central Departments (formerly referred to as the Home Civil Service)

  • Diplomatic Service

  • Science and Engineering Fast Stream

  • Clerkships in Parliament

  • DfID Technical Development Officers

All the above are known collectively as the Graduate Fast Stream. Within the Diplomatic Service there is a separate option for economists. The Science and Engineering Fast Stream has two branches: one is exclusive to the Ministry of Defence, and the other is open to other departments. There are also separate Fast Stream competitions for Economists, Statisticians and GCHQ Graduate Management Trainees and IT specialists through the Technology in Business scheme.

Methods of entry
1.5.2 Entry to the Graduate Fast Stream is by open competition. Applicants may express preferences for more than one of the above options on the same application form. A higher pass mark may be applied to some options. There is a separate In-Service Fast Stream competition for serving civil servants which gives access to the Central Departments or the Ministry of Defence branch of the Science and Engineering Fast Stream.
The selection process

  1. The application process is begun on-line. Candidates are first asked to complete an online self-assessment of suitability. The first stage of the actual selection process consists of on-line tests of Verbal and Numerical Reasoning and a Competency Questionnaire. This stage of the selection process can be completed on any PC with internet access. If candidates reach the required level, they progress to an electronic in-tray test (the e-Tray) held in centres throughout the United Kingdom. The best performers in the e-Tray exercise are invited to the Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC), a day-long process at which their potential in a range of key competencies is assessed. Success at FSAC guarantees a place in the Central Departments option, but candidates for the Diplomatic Service, DfID TDO and the Parliamentary Clerkships go on to attend a Final Selection Board.

  1. Candidates with a disability may request exemption from the on-line tests, and go straight to the e-Tray exercise. If successful, they are invited to attend a pre-FSAC familiarisation session. Reasonable adjustments are made for them as necessary.

  1. In-Service candidates are shortlisted by their departments or agencies, and are also exempt from the on-line tests. They attend the e-Tray exercise, but progress to the FSAC regardless of their performance in it. At FSAC, they are assessed to the same standard, and using the same procedure, as for external candidates.


  1. Applicants for the open competition must usually have at least a Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent qualification. For the Statistician and Science and Engineering Fast Streams, the degree must be in a relevant subject. Applicants for the Economist Fast Stream require a 2:1 degree in economics or a joint or mixed degree of which at least half the courses are core economics. Applicants for Technology in Business must have a 2:1 degree in a specified discipline.

  1. For serving civil servants wishing to enter the In-Service competition, no academic qualifications of any kind are required. In-Service applicants must usually have completed at least twelve months’ continuous service in their departments or agencies. The In-Service competition is open only to serving civil servants who were recruited by a process of fair and open competition. There is an In-Service Fast Stream finance option which is also open to some serving Fast Streamers. Those candidates who wish to apply must undergo financial aptitude tests.

  1. There is an In-Service Fast Stream option for Government Social Researchers (GSR). Applicants to this option are drawn from within the GSR and undergo testing of their social research skills before going through the rest of the Fast Stream process.

  1. Most posts in the Fast Stream are open to EU and Commonwealth citizens. It is for departments and agencies to determine whether (or how many of) their Fast Stream posts are open to non-UK nationals.

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