Civil Service Commission

Interpreting the Civil Service Code

The Propriety and Ethics Team in Cabinet Office is responsible for drafting and publishing the Civil Service Code and is therefore best placed to provide guidance on its interpretation. However, below is the Commission’s brief guide to what the Code does and does not cover.

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.

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 Commissioners interpretation of the principle of appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition.