House of Commons Library

The Civil Service Code

Published Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 sets out a requirement that there should be a Civil Service Code. The Code must provide that civil servants carry out their duties for the assistance of the administration of the day. These duties must be carried out with “integrity and honesty” and “objectivity and impartiality”.

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The Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 sets out a requirement that there should be a Civil Service Code. The Code must provide that civil servants carry out their duties for the assistance of the administration of the day. These duties must be carried out with “integrity and honesty” and “objectivity and impartiality”.

The current version of the Code was laid before Parliament in November 2010, with an amended version laid in March 2015. Along with defining the key terms from the 2010 Act, it sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants. Civil servants who believe that they are required to act in a way which conflicts with the Code can appeal to departmental managers, and can take complaints to the Civil Service Commission. The Civil Service Commission also has a duty to promote the Code. Separate Codes exist for civil servants working for the Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Executive. In March 2015 the Government amended the 2010 Code to require ministerial authorisation before civil service contacts with the media.

The Civil Service Commission also became a body established by primary legislation with the passing of the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010. The Commissioners have two main functions: upholding the principle that selection to appointments in the Civil Service must be on merit on the basis of fair and open competition; and hearing appeals from civil servants under the Civil Service Code.

This note provides details of the Civil Service Code and information about the Civil Service Commission, and also sets out the background to the Code.

Commons Briefing papers SN06699

Author: Lucinda Maer

Topic: Civil Service

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