Outside Work Policy

POLICY NO: HR - 32.0

DATE OF APPROVAL: 12 April 2013, Council Resolution 2013/2/11

AMENDMENTS: Revised 17 January 2020 (Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture)

REFERENCE AUTHORITY: Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture


  • Risk Management Policy (C-24)
  • Vice Chancellor's Authorisations Framework
  • Staff Code of Conduct
  • Code of good practice: Relationships between staff and students
  • Australian Code of Responsible Conduct of Research
  • Intellectual Property Guidelines
  • Outside Work and Insurance Coverage.





1. Preamble

1.1.         It is in the interests of the University for members of staff to participate in activities which promote or maintain their professional standing and benefit the institution. The University values outside work which:

  • forms and fosters external relationships which help the University to realise its vision and carry out its mission;
  • is carried out in a way which is consistent with the University's values; and
  • builds capacity by adding to the professional expertise of its staff.

1.2.         Outside work may expose the University to risks, including unauthorised use of University resources, conflict of interest, potential legal liability and damage to the University's reputation. Outside work must be undertaken in a way that appropriately addresses any risks associated with such arrangements.



2.Policy Objectives

2.1.The objectives of this policy are to:

  • provide a framework for the management of outside work opportunities available to staff;
  • support participation in consultancies and other work which bring opportunities and benefits to the University, its staff, its students and the communities it serves;
  • provide clarity about the use, either directly or by implication, of the University's name, services or resources; and
  • provide clarity about the University's requirements for outside work, including cost recovery and compliance with relevant legislation.



The following definitions apply for the purpose of this policy:

A Conflict of Interest occurs when a personal interest harms or interferes with a staff member's duties to the University or causes a detriment to the University (in this policy called a personal conflict) or there is a conflict between a staff member's duties to the University and to a third party.

Personal conflicts of interest (refer to explanatory notes) can involve the financial or non-financial interests of:

  • the staff member, or
  • their business partners or associates, family members or friends, or
  • persons who have or have had a personal relationship with the staff member.

Intellectual Property means intellectual property created by staff members and students of the University.

Outside Work means paid or unpaid work performed by a staff member for any external party (including any controlled entity of the University). It includes:

University Practice means work that a staff member undertakes as a staff member of the University for an external party, where the University is party to the contract under which the work is carried out.

Private Practice means work that is related or similar to the staff member's work, duties or responsibilities within the University and may be seen as such but where the University is not a party to the contract under which the work is carried out.

Outside Directorship means service on a board, management committee or other similar group which fulfils a governance function for an organisation and where that work is related to a staff member's work, duties or responsibilities within the University.

Unrelated Outside Work means work that is neither related nor similar to the staff member's work, duties or responsibilities and which would not be seen as such, and where the University is not a party to the contract under which the work is undertaken. Unrelated outside work includes service on boards or committees with a governance function and where that service is not related to a staff member's work, duties or responsibilities within the University.

Director means the senior manager of a Research Institute or Central Unit.

Executive Dean means the senior manager of an Academic Unit.

Enterprise Leadership Team (ELT) means the Vice Chancellor, the Provost and Chief Academic Officer, the Deputy Vice Chancellor: Research and Enterprise, the Chief Operating Officer, and Executive Director: People Talent and Culture.

Staff Member means a person employed by the University in a continuing, fixed-term or casual position.

Senior Manager means an Executive Dean of an Academic Unit, a Director of a Research Institute or a Central Unit, or, where relevant, a member of the ELT.

University Resources means any resources of the University, including the staff member's University work arrangements, work time or duties (as set out in a position description or enterprise agreement), equipment, facilities, finance and other systems, IT networks, other staffing resources and the University's name and logo or any other identifying mark of the University.



4.1.        This policy applies to all outside work and to all staff members. Casual staff are only subject to the requirements of clauses 6 and 8.2.


5.Exempt Academic Activities

5.1.         The following activities are considered to be part of normal academic work provided that any remuneration is by way of reimbursement, a gratuity or an honorarium, and is not a commercial fee for service nor could be regarded as such. These activities will be managed through the normal performance management process, and the University's insurance coverage will apply to these activities. They are subject to clause 6.1 but are otherwise exempt from the operation of this policy:


  • refereeing of articles, papers and books and similar scholarly work
  • examining for educational and professional bodies
  • delivering occasional guest lectures, seminars and conference papers or sessions
  • providing occasional performances, exhibitions, media contributions and appearances
  • writing, editing and reviewing of scholarly works
  • membership of editorial boards
  • membership of grant review committees and similar duties for granting bodies
  • service on community, educational, and professional boards, committees or groups but not outside directorships as defined in this policy
  • activity serving educational, community engagement or professional purposes
  • any other activity approved by the Vice Chancellor or Executive Director: People Talent and Culture as an exempt activity under this policy


6. Outside Work Not Allowable

6.1.        Outside work is not allowed where:

6.1.1.      the staff member has, may have, or may reasonably be perceived to have a conflict of interest; or

6.1.2.     the use of University resources may have an adverse effect on the operations of the University or where the costs of such use cannot be appropriately reimbursed; or

6.1.3.     the capacity of the staff member to perform their duties or organisational functions in the University competently and safely is or may be affected; or

6.1.4.     the reputation, standing or performance of the University is or may be adversely affected; or

6.1.5.     a significant risk for the University exists or may be created in the course of performing the work and the risk cannot be managed appropriately.

6.2.        In any situation described in Clause 6.1, the staff member must notify the relevant senior manager of their Institute, Academic or Central Unit, or where they have a direct reporting relationship, to a member of the ELT, and must take appropriate steps to remedy the situation in conjunction with them. The senior manager may withdraw approval for the activity if necessary.

6.3.        In the case of an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest arising from any type of outside work, the senior manager is responsible for determining appropriate duties and processes to avoid the conflict of interest.


7. University Practice

7.1.         University practice is governed by the Research and Consultancy Guidelines.

7.2.        University practice is the subject of normal performance development and management discussions.

7.3.        University practice will be conducted in accordance with relevant legal requirements, applicable professional standards and requirements, community and social values, University policy and the strategic directions of the University.

7.4.        Costs must be fully considered before university practice is entered into.


8. Private Practice

8.1.        A staff member must obtain written approval from the relevant senior manager before the activity commences. The following conditions must be satisfied.

8.1.1.      The nature, duration and frequency of the work must not affect the performance of the staff member's duties or the operations of the University.

8.1.2.     University resources cannot be used without the University's written agreement and the University must be appropriately recompensed for any resources used.

8.1.3.     The University must not be exposed to more than minimal risk.

8.1.4.     The staff member must maintain adequate insurance coverage including professional indemnity coverage in relation to the private work and must give evidence of this to the University on request.

8.1.5.     The staff member must give the client for whom the work is to be conducted a written statement that:   the work is being undertaken by the staff member in a private capacity; and  the University is not involved in the activity in any way.

8.1.6.     The staff member must provide a copy of this statement to their relevant senior manager on request.

8.2.        In undertaking private practice, staff members:

8.2.1.     may only use their university affiliation or title (refer to explanatory notes) with the prior written approval of the relevant senior manager. Approval will only be given if the private practice involves an appointment of distinction and carries minimal risk for the University.

8.2.2.     must not use University stationery or letterhead or otherwise promote the work as being sponsored or undertaken by the University.

8.2.3.     must direct mail, email, telephone and other communications relating to the private work to a place other than the University.

8.2.4.    must not use any University intellectual property unless explicitly approved to do so by the relevant senior manager.

8.2.5.     must not employ students of the University without the approval of the relevant senior manager.

8.3.        A senior manager may approve a class of related activities.  (refer to explanatory notes)

8.4.        Where a staff member's contract of employment contains a provision for them to undertake particular private practice and there is a conflict between the contract of employment and this policy, the contract of employment will override this policy as far, and only so far, as is necessary to give effect to the contract of employment.  (refer to explanatory notes)


9. Outside Directorships

9.1.        Outside directorships may expose the University or the staff member to liability for the staff member's actions.

9.2.        The Vice Chancellor must approve any outside directorship where the staff member is a University of South Australia appointee or nominee.

9.3.        For the purposes of this policy, an outside directorship is part of a staff member's university duties if:

9.3.1.     It has been approved by the Vice Chancellor under clause 9.2, or

9.3.2.     It has been approved by the relevant senior manager and recorded in the staff member's performance management plan.

9.4.        Where an outside directorship is part of a staff member's university duties as defined in clause 9.3, the University's insurance coverage will apply to these activities.

9.5.        The University will provide managers and staff with guidelines to enable them to assess the risks involved in, and a mechanism for approving, outside directorships.  (refer to explanatory notes)

9.6.        Where an outside directorship is not part of a staff member's university duties as defined in clause 9.3, the requirements of Clause 8, Private Practice, apply.  


10. Unrelated Outside Work

10.1.      A staff member may undertake unrelated outside work without the need to seek prior approval, provided that the work does not:

10.1.1.   interfere with the performance of their university duties, or

10.1.2.   involve the use of University resources, or

10.1.3.   involve a conflict of interest, or

10.1.4.   involve a misuse of the staff member's position at the University.

10.2.     The conditions set out in clause 8.2 also apply to unrelated outside work.

10.3.     Where undertaking the work may result in a breach of these requirements, the staff member must take appropriate steps to remedy the situation in conjunction with their senior manager. Appropriate steps may include discontinuing the outside work. 


11. Compliance

11.1.        It is each staff member's responsibility to ensure that they are aware of and comply with this policy, and to obtain any approvals required under this policy before undertaking outside work.

11.2.       All senior managers are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy.


12. Performance Planning and Appraisal

12.1.       As part of their annual performance appraisal, staff members must provide a summary of university or private practice and outside directorships they have undertaken in that year and must discuss activity planned for the following year.


13. Intellectual Property

13.1.       Ownership of intellectual property is determined by the Intellectual Property Guidelines.


14. Grievances

14.1.       Staff are referred to the provisions contained in the applicable industrial instrument (i.e. Collective/Enterprise Agreement, Award, Australian Workplace Agreement, contract of employment or legislation) with respect to grievances pertaining to conditions of Outside Work.


15. Breach of the Policy

15.1.       A breach of this policy may be dealt with by the relevant senior manager of an Institute, Academic or Central Unit, or where appropriate, by a member of the ELT by:

15.1.1.    placing conditions on the approval for the outside work,

15.1.2.    withdrawing approval to conduct the outside work,

15.1.3.    referring the matter to the Executive Director: People, Talent and Culture to consider whether action should be taken under the misconduct/serious misconduct provisions in the relevant enterprise/collective agreement, or

15.1.4.    by any other action considered necessary by the Vice Chancellor.


Explanatory Notes


Personal Conflict of Interest

A personal conflict of interest is more accurately described as 'a conflict between duty and interest'. The 'duty' is the responsibility that the staff member owes to the University to perform their work in an appropriate manner. The 'interest' is any personal interest that the staff member may have that could deflect them from their duty to the University.


  • A staff member gives preference to a supplier in return for personal gifts - the duty is to get the best deal for the University; the interest is the gift.
  • A staff member gives a young relative favourable treatment in the admissions process - the duty is to maintain the integrity of the student admissions process; the interest is the advancement of a family member.
  • A staff member uses their reputation to acquire highly paid consultancy work and neglects their lecturing duties - the duty is to serve the University's students; the interest is the personal income.
  • An academic staff member provides private, paid tuition to students. The duty is to teach students as well as possible and to assess their work impartially. Teaching students privately may give rise to the perception that the staff member is not impartial, or that he/she has an incentive to teach in such a way that students need additional tuition.
  • A staff member pursues work which the University is competing for or may wish to pursue. The duty is to support the University's academic and financial objectives; the interest is the private gain from undertaking the work.

Working for another university (especially one in South Australia) would generally be considered to involve a conflict of interest. However, the University of South Australia recognises that casual staff may reasonably expect to be able to seek employment in other universities.

There is more information in the university code of ethical conduct.


8.2.1 Private Practice - Use of university affiliation or title

A staff member with a PhD or a professional doctorate is entitled to use the prefix 'Dr'. The title does not depend on an employment relationship with this or any other institution.

Titles such as 'professor', 'associate professor' and 'director' are usually granted as part of an employment relationship with a university. When this is the case, a staff member undertaking private practice should only use such a title and the name of the institution with the prior written approval of the relevant senior manager of their Institute, Academic or Central Unit or member of the ELT.


8.3 Private Practice - approval of class of related activities

Private practice may comprise a single activity or a class of activities. For example, an Executive Dean could approve a staff member conducting similar consultancies from time to time within certain constraints, without having to approve each individual consultancy.


Private Practice - Provisions in the Contract of Employment

  1. Professional Accreditation

Some staff members may have to engage in outside work in order to maintain professional accreditation that is essential for their position within the University. It is preferable that such issues be dealt with in the contract of employment.

  1. Part-time staff

In some disciplines, staff may be employed for their professional expertise under continuing or fixed-term contracts but have limited duties within the University. Example: a health professional in private practice on, say, a 0.2 FTE lecturing contract with the University. Regular discussions about private practice, which forms the majority of their employment, could place an unnecessary burden on the staff member and their senior manager. It is preferable that such issues be dealt with in the contract of employment.


Outside Directorships

Finance form FS33 enables staff members and managers to assess the risks involved in an outside directorship and to decide if there is an appropriate level of insurance coverage. It must be completed and:

  1. Where the staff member is a University nominee or appointee (see clause 9.2), forwarded to the Vice Chancellor by the relevant senior manager.
  2. Where the outside directorship is approved under clause 9.3 ii, appended to the staff member's Performance Development and Management Plan.