This is the THIRD in a series of updates that the USU will be releasing in consultation with the industry parties including depa, LGEA and LGNSW.

This update deals with Fairness and equity Sections 3.3, 3.4 and 3.5.

It should be understood that the principles contained within the fairness and equity sections of the model code are equally relevant as to how all of those involved in NSW Local Government at all levels conduct themselves in carrying out their duties and obligations as required in their respective role/s in Local Government.

Fairness and equity

3.3 You must consider issues consistently, promptly and fairly. You must deal with matters in accordance with established procedures, in a non-discriminatory manner.

3.4 You must take all relevant facts known to you, or that you should be reasonably aware of, into consideration and have regard to the particular merits of each case. You must not take irrelevant matters or circumstances into consideration when making decisions.

3.5 An act or omission in good faith, whether or not it involves error, will not constitute a breach of clauses 3.3 or 3.4.

The sections under Fairness and equity are extremely important to those who work in NSW Local Government (including employees and elected representatives) in particular when investigating and dealing with complaints against staff.

Section 3.3 refers to dealing with matters in a consistent manner.

Councils should have appropriate policies and procedures in place and all of those involved within Council should be provided with the appropriate training and clear instruction on what is expected of them.

When a complaint is made, it is important that the Council (employer) take a consistent and fair approach in a prompt and non-discriminatory manner in dealing with each and every issue.

Nothing erodes workplace morale more than staff feeling that their employer lacks consistency and fairness in dealing with issues.

Section 3.4 is very important also, as it deals with ensuring that the Council (employer) properly investigates matters and looks at all of the facts. Too often matters end up in the Industrial Commission, (which could and should have been resolved internally) due to a failure by the Council (employer) to consider all of the relevant facts before making a decision.

This often also occurs with the Council (employer) seeking to use or to refer to unrelated, irrelevant matters or circumstances when seeking to justify their decision which should have been made only after all relevant facts were considered before making any decision that could be considered detrimental to the person, or people, who were the subject of the complaint(s) and who were investigated.

Section 3.5 recognises that on occasions an act or omission made in good faith does not constitute a breach of Sections 3.3 or 3.4.

Mistakes can obviously be made during any investigation process, however where it can be proven that there was a deliberate intent to ignore any of the requirements of fairness and equity found in sections 3.3 and 3.4, the section contained in section 3.5 would not apply.


1. United Services Union
Stephen Hughes (Manager North)
Ph: (02) 4962-1444 or
Daniel Papps (USU Legal and Industrial Officer)
Ph: (02) 9265-8211

2. Local Government Engineers Association
Gordon Brock (Director)
Ph: (02) 9263-6555

3. Development and Environmental Professionals’ Association
Ian Robertson (Secretary)
Ph: (02) 9712-5255

4. Local Government NSW
Industrial Relations Unit
Ph: (02) 9242-4142