Civil Service Commission

Civil Service Code

The Civil Service Code, which forms part of the terms and conditions of every civil servant*, was first introduced by the Cabinet Office in 1996. It was reviewed after ten years and a new Code was issued in June 2006. There was a further minor revision in 2010 to reflect the provisions of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010.

The Civil Service Commission has two important roles in relation to the Civil Service Code. The Commission hears complaints under the Code from civil servants. The Commission also works with Departments to help them with their promotion of the Code.

What the Civil Service Code covers

The Civil Service Code outlines the core values of the Civil Service:

  • Honesty
  • Integrity
  • Impartiality
  • Objectivity

It describes the standards of behaviour expected of individual civil servants against each of these four values.

If a civil servant is asked to do something which conflicts with the values in the Code, or is aware that another civil servant is acting in conflict with the values, he or she should raise a concern within their own department.

Their department should investigate their concern. If they are dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation they may bring a complaint to the Civil Service Commission. The Commission may also hear a complaint direct.

What the Civil Service Code does not cover

As the Civil Service Code is about the core values of the Civil Service it does not cover areas outside this forum such as:

  • personnel management grievances
  • disagreements about the merits of policy
  • disagreements about management decisions

Such matters should be pursued through the normal channels within the department.
The Civil Service Code is sometimes confused with the Civil Service Management Code (also issued by the Cabinet Office) which deals with the management of the Civil Service terms and conditions of employment etc.

The Civil Service Code is also sometimes confused with the Civil Service Commission’s Recruitment Principles. The Recruitment Principles set out the Commissions interpretation of the principle of appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.

*Civil servants working for the Scottish Executive  have their own version of the Code.