Change in government: What this means for your next contract

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Whether you are new to the Australian Public Service (APS) or have been engaged in roles in the APS for years, knowing what kind of employment suits you is key to helping you achieve your goals. For those starting out in the APS, it’s important to note that there are three common employment options:

  1. Labour hire
  2. Non-ongoing
  3. Permanent

Permanency is just that: permanent, ongoing employment in your role. Your salary is set and will increase per your department’s enterprise agreement. You also benefit from personal leave, annual leave, and depending on longevity, you would also qualify for long service leave.

However, permanency isn’t always an option, and sometimes isn’t even a desirable option for candidates.

At Capital Recruit, we can place people into permanent roles, but often, we place job seekers into labour hire or non-ongoing contracts.

Labour hire vs non-ongoing

There are some key differences between labour hire and non-ongoing contracts. However, these types of engagement may also be negotiated with your chosen recruitment agency:

Labour hire Non-ongoing 
  • The contractor is engaged by Capital Recruit as a casual employee with a fixed-term contract assigned to the relevant Department.
  • No entitlement to the APS superannuation scheme or annual/personal leave entitlements so the base hourly rate is higher than a permanent/non—ongoing salary to compensate.
  • Known outside the APS as a fixed-term contract.
  • Engaged under an APS contract with full benefits and conditions including the APS superannuation contribution (currently 15.4%) and annual/personal leave entitlements.
  • Compensation is generally based on an annual salary in line with the Department’s Enterprise Agreement.
  • Set contract start and end date.
  • Some contracts have the possibility for an extension as well as conversion to a non-ongoing or ongoing contract (conversion to ongoing requires the individual to be found suitable through a merit process).
  • Set contract start and end date.
  • A non-ongoing role may be converted to ongoing if the individual is found suitable through a merit process.

Hiring is determined by the government of the day

The number of and type of contracts available are determined by factors influenced by the government of the day.

A recent example is recruitment activity in response to economic or health emergencies, such as pulling together the COVID-19 Taskforce. Pooling resources together through temporary transfers from one department to another, or hiring externally on a contract, can quickly fill roles required to manage the crisis.

Likewise, party policy can influence the way the government hires people. Labor has announced that it will reduce spending on the external labour force by abolishing the Average Staffing Level (ASL) cap.

Teegan Elliott, Senior Consultant in Policy, Program, and Project Management recruitment, says the outcomes of the October 2022 budget will be interesting. “Labor has said that it’s government will reduce the spend on contracts by 10% in the first year,” says Teegan Elliott.

What to consider when deciding which contract option is best for you

“For our candidates who much prefer, and who choose labour hire contracts over ongoing employment, eliminating the ASL cap is not an attractive policy,” says Teegan. She added that candidates with a unique skill set, or expertise within a specific subject matter, may continue to be highly sought after by government departments.

For projects with a start and end date, Teegan suggests that the government is still likely to contract specialist skills for the duration of that project.

On the other hand, the possibility of increased permanent hires across the APS appeals to a wide group of candidates, says Janelle Cousins, Senior Consultant in Corporate Support. “We might see an increase in permanent opportunities, which I know some candidates who are just starting out in their career will jump at.”

For candidates looking to get into the APS as their first corporate role, permanency is highly attractive to them, particularly for Executive Assistants. “When candidates are looking to move from private, where most roles are permanent, into the public service, it can be daunting to move to a fixed term contract.

“However, it’s a balancing act. When candidates come to us, we consult with them to find out what’s important. Sometimes there may only be a contract option, and that’s enough to get their foot in the door that opens to other opportunities. Some find that they really enjoy contracting and learning about new departments or sections. Some jump from a contract into a non-ongoing and then are offered permanency… it’s about knowing what a candidate wants to achieve.”


Capital Recruit can help find the right opportunity for you. Contact us to discuss your options and take the next step in your career.


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Capital Recruit is based in Canberra, Australia

Our job vacancies are based across a number of States in Australia.

Currently we are working with clients who require Australian work rights to be in place prior to application and we do not have opportunities for sponsorship. For more information on Australian work rights, please visit

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