Human Resources

University Policy on Professional and Consultative Work

Policy No.
Human Resources
Authoring Organisational Unit
Human Resources - Central Unit
Date Approved
Revised 29/06/2010
Next Review Date
Approving Body
Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor And Registrar

The University of Western Australia

University Policy on: Professional and Consultative Work

Purpose of the policy and summary of issues it addresses:

This policy outlines the management framework for flexible opportunities for employees to undertake consultancy work, including control expectations, when and how such work may be undertaken. Guidelines are provided for consultancy work using the University's name and employees undertaking private consultancies.

Policy statement:

Process Map

Contents of this Policy




Accountability Framework




Legal and Financial


Scope, Nature,


Eligibility, Participation


Other Provisions -

and Benefits


University Contracts


Key Principles


Teaching Outside Regular


Roles and




University Duties


Ethical Behaviour


Conflicts of Interest in



University Business



1 Objectives of the Policy

1.1 encourage employee participation in consultancy work that the University regards as bringing opportunities and benefits to the University, its employees and students;

1.2 provide a flexible management framework governing the granting of approval for the range of consultancy work undertaken by University employees using the University's name, services, space laboratories, utilities, facilities, equipment, computers, or paid work time, including those directed toward charitable purposes and community service;

1.3 provide guidance in relation to the University's management and quality control expectations for contracts of consultancy work that involve or implicate the University, including those relating to risk management and accountability;

1.4 provide guidance to persons both inside and outside the University as to when and how consultancy work may be undertaken using the University's name, services, space including laboratories, facilities, equipment including computers, or paid work time, and how University consultancy funds may be expended; and

1.5 provide guidance for University employees to pursue private consultancies to ensure there is a clear distinction between work performed in a private capacity and as a University employee.

For a range of academic, legal and financial reasons outlined in this policy statement staff are encouraged to engage in their professional and consultative work as a University Consultancy where possible.

2 Definitions

Consultancy Work is a comprehensive term that refers to the full range of services that may be provided by employees of the University to commercial, government or other clients in the broader community. These are outlined in section 3.2. To fall under this policy, such work:

is be conducted within the time allocation allowed by the University for this purpose; or

utilises University resources and/or facilities; or

has been obtained as a consequence of the reputation of the University and the individual's affiliation with and skills/knowledge demonstrated at the University. (For example, an architect engaged in the design of home renovations (for which he or she is paid) is likely to be covered by this policy as the work is directly related to the skills for which he or she is employed at the University. An historian doing the same thing would not.)

Employee means a person employed by the University who has an ongoing or fixed term contract.

Head of School refers to the Head of School or Section Head of an organisational unit within the University.

Time Allocation refers to the standard entitlement for an employee to engage in professional and consultancy work. This can be up to 20% of the working year (that is, not more than 48 days per annum allowing for annual leave). See 7.1.

Private Consultancy is a form of consultancy work conducted and contracted by an employee of the University within the agreed time allocation for such work. Payment is made direct to that individual, or to a trust, private company, or registered business. Employees receiving payment for private benefit must consider the money as private income on which income tax is payable.

University means the University of Western Australia including all its Faculties, Departments, Centres, Services, Institutes, Units, Schools and Colleges.

University Consultancy is a form of consultancy work, conducted under a University contract, within the agreed time allocation for such work. Note that the existence of a University Consultancy means that by definition, a University Contract has been made.

University Contract is a contract for consultancy work agreed between the University and a commercial, government, or other legal entity. Contracts within this category are recognised by the requirement for the University signatory to the contract to be a member of the University's Executive. Signing authority may be delegated to Heads of School in some instances. The University Delegations can be found at University Delegations.

3 Purpose, Scope and Objectives of the Policy

3.1 Scope of the Policy

Regular Duties:

The responsibilities of University of Western Australia employees are set out in their employment contract. Employees may engage in a range of professional activities that may attract fees or royalties. Examples of such activities include:

  • Teaching outside and in addition to regular duties (may include summer sessions, offshore teaching, University Extension teaching and other additional, 'off-load' teaching)
  • Publication of books
  • Proceeds from articles published in journals
  • Refereeing of articles in learned journals
  • Publication of book reviews
  • Acting as an external examiner or reviewer, or member of Curriculum Council examination panel
  • Occasional lectures, exhibitions or performances
  • Examine PhDs or equivalent

In addition, research funded by competitive research grants (that attract no private income) and University contract research funded on behalf of or jointly with public or private sector organisations (that attract no private income) can be seen as part of the research role.

The activities set out above are not the major subject of this policy. Formal approval for these activities, which are seen as part of regular duties, is not required. Staff are required to notify the Head of School of such activities in the course of their Professional Development Review (PDR) and comply other School reporting requirements so the activities may be included in the Annual Report of the University, Faculty or School.

The University of Western Australia supports employees (subject to their contract of employment) to engage in consultancy activities that advance their professional interests and the wider interests of the University. This policy statement sets out the conditions under which consultancies may occur.

3.2 General Statement -- The Nature of Professional and Consultancy Work

Under specified conditions, employees may engage in a variety of consultancy activities that bring additional funds to the University, to them as individuals or other third parties. The time allowance for such activities for academic staff is up to 20% of a working year averaged at one day of a five day working week (see time allocation at 7.1). These activities include:

3.2.1 consultancy work including company directorships, contract consulting and contract teaching;

3.2.2 sitting on government or related committees, or judicial or administrative bodies for which a fee is paid;

3.2.3 practice in a profession including medicine and dentistry. Clinical academics who engage in medical private practice shall do so in a manner consistent with this policy and any policy or regulation stipulated by the relevant teaching hospital. Time spent on medical private practice shall be deducted from the 20% of time allocation provided for other forms of consultancy covered by this policy;

3.2.4 provision of professional expertise on an occasional basis that may attract a fee or honorarium. Examples include:

  • contributions to the press
  • radio or television broadcasting
  • expert witness

3.2.5 pro bono work within the community (resulting in no additional University or private income but enhancing the reputation of the University).

3.3 Other Activities

Employees may also have private, recreational and other professional interests that are subject to payment but which are unrelated to the skills for which they are employed at the University, and which do not otherwise occupy or interfere with the staff member's University time and duties. For example, an employee may have an active ownership interest in a winery or other agricultural activity that produces an income. Where private income arises from such activities notification of the Head of School is required only if there is potential for the activity to cause a real or perceived conflict of interest with the staff member's duties to the University.

Similarly, employees, may be involved in unpaid community or recreational activities that have no direct relationship to their professional commitment to the University. This policy does not relate to these activities. However, where there is a disagreement as to whether or not a particular activity relates to their position as a University employee, the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor is to be informed, irrespective of whether fees are paid.

3.4 Eligibility

Employees appointed to academic teaching and research staff positions on a tenured or fixed-term basis (full time, fractional and honorary) are entitled to undertake consultancy work under the terms set out in this policy and where formal approval has been sought and granted. For detailed information about the approval process see 7.2. While approval for staff holding honorary appointments is required, in most circumstances such approval would be anticipated.

Employees appointed to "research only" staff positions (whether or not their salary is on the academic scale) are prohibited from undertaking consultancy work during normal working hours. However, there may be exceptional circumstances in which this restriction can be waived with the permission of the head of School and Dean on recommendation of the grant holder funding the research staff member's salary.

All other employees, unless they have negotiated employment contracts that allow them to undertake consultancy work, are prohibited from conducting consultancy work during normal working hours. However, there may be circumstances in which this restriction can be waived with permission of the Dean or equivalent.

Employees appointed on a Fractional basis are required to advise the Head of School of their external consultancy work. In ordinary circumstances no employee will be given approval to hold a concurrent appointment in another organisation where the appointments together constitute a greater than full time position (for example, 0.7 at UWA and 0.5 elsewhere). The Head of School is to be notified of any employment and consultancy work external to the University. Staff seeking approval for consultancy work shall complete the Application to Undertake Consultancy Work prior to undertaking the work and indicate, where relevant, the time commitment in fractional terms.

3.5 Participation and Benefits

Approval for the participation of employees in consultancy work, involving the application of their special knowledge and skills will be given only where the activity is of benefit to both the University.

Some of the benefits to the University include:

  • the ability to attract and retain high quality staff, particularly in some professional areas;
  • opportunities for staff to maintain their professional skills;
  • opportunities for the University to perform its community service role;
  • contributions to the research quantum of the University and, hence, to its overall research funding.

4 Key Principles

There are four key principles central to University staff performing Consultancy Work. These are summarised below and then explained in detail.

Principle 1: Maintaining Priorities: The priority activity for employees is to fulfil their employment/contractual obligations to the University in such areas as teaching, research and servicing core functions that further the mission of the University. Consultancy work should be approved only in those cases where the employee's performance is satisfactory, and there will be no undue impact on the workload of colleagues or on the employee's contribution as an academic citizen of the University.

Principle 2: Ethical Behaviour: In discharging their contractual obligations and in any other external liaison with members of the community, an employee will display the highest possible ethical standards.

Principle 3: Accountability:Consultancy work will occur within an accountability framework with clear requirements for approvals, recording and reporting of these activities on behalf of the University. Failure to comply with these accountability requirements will be considered as misconduct and may result in disciplinary action.

Principle 4: Legal and Financial Arrangements: All legal and financial arrangements established for the purpose of participation in a Private Consultancy, where payment is made direct to an individual, will ensure that the University is not liable for such activities. In ordinary circumstances those engaged in a Private Consultancy may not use any University facility (power, space including laboratories, equipment including computers, letterhead, consumables). Where such use has been agreed, any and all costs that arise as a consequence of private use of University services and facilities will be recouped in accordance with full cost recovery principles. Staff engaged in University Consultancies are indemnified by existing University policies.

5 Principle 1: Maintaining Priorities - Roles and Responsibilities

5.1 Obligations of the Employee

Consultancies should not conflict with the interests of the University.

The opportunity to participate in consultancy work is given on the basis that contractual obligations to the University must take priority over any consultancy work. Consultancy work undertaken by an employee shall not have an undue impact on the workloads of colleagues. Equally those engaged in consultancy work are still expected to play a full role as an employee of the University, including attending meetings, undertaking other academic and administrative activities.

Where employees have a contractual obligation associated with teaching and research or the servicing of such areas, fulfilling these obligations at a high level is the primary duty. The standard of the consultancy work should generally enhance the prestige of the University and the professional reputations of the employees involved.

Employees should engage in consultancy work that addresses more challenging and innovative problems within the employee's discipline and/or fields of particular expertise. In the case of academic staff it should build on and enrich a staff member's teaching and research interests and be of a quality that could lead to peer reviewed journal articles and/or graduate theses. In other cases, the consultancy work should enhance the image of the University in the community as a source of high quality expertise.

5.2 Role of the Head of School

Approval for consultancy work can only be given cases where performance of the full range of duties is satisfactory. This judgment falls to the Head of School (while Head of School's activities are approved by the Dean).

Where such approval has been granted it is also the role of the Head of School to monitor its effects on an employee's priority commitments and its impact on other employees (refer to time limits in 7.1 ).

It is the role and responsibility of the Head of School, on behalf of the University, to withdraw the privilege of consulting where there are concerns about an employee's performance or about its impact on the work of the School. In doing so, the Head must make a judgment in relation to not only teaching but also to research and administrative performance. The University does not regard private consulting reports as equivalent to refereed research publications, as a rule.

Within the context of this policy the Head of School is also responsible for:

  • providing guidance to employees on consultancy work;
  • ensuring that applications for consultancy work comply with the requirements of this policy including the time allocation allowed (see 7.1);
  • monitoring consultancy activity within the school;
  • recording and reporting on the quantum of consultancy work to the Dean of the Faculty or other appropriate officer of the University; and
  • facilitating internal and external audit processes.

5.3 Role of the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor has overall responsibility for the implementation and operation of this policy, and is final arbiter in any dispute as to its application, meaning and scope.

5.4 Role of the Senate

The University Senate has final authority for approving alterations to this policy on consultancy work.

6 Principle 2: Ethical Behaviour

6.1 Directorships and Partnerships

No member of staff should, without the permission of the Vice-Chancellor, become a director of a public or private company (including incorporated associations but excluding entities such as schools or companies formed to deal solely with private affairs) or become a partner or principal in a commercial firm or partnership.

Requests for permission to hold a directorship or other commercial positions, including those within public agencies, will be considered by the Vice-Chancellor on the advice of the Dean (or other appropriate officer) after recommendation by the Head of School. In the case of Deans, a direct request should be made to the Vice-Chancellor. The time commitments associated with a directorship or partnership must be included within the time allocation for consultancy work. For employees who do not have a contractual provision for engaging in consultancy work this activity must be out of working hours.

Such an appointment shall not conflict with an employee's academic or administrative responsibilities or their duties or responsibilities as an employee of the University. It should also advance good relations between the University and the organisation concerned. Heads of Schools will review permission to hold such positions annually.

No public statement may be made by an employee in regard to issues dealt with by any entity, except where the employee is identified as acting in their capacity as a director or officer of the entity rather than as a member of the University. (Refer to Guidelines on Public Comment by University Staff).

6.2 Market Competition

The opportunity to engage in consultancy work is not given to employees for the purpose of enabling them to supplement their incomes, but any fees charged (where the consultancy is not community pro bono work) should not be less than the normal professional fee. Additionally, no individual employee should solicit consultancy work by any form of public advertisement. Private Consultancy work must not compete with services otherwise provided by the University on a commercial basis.

7 Principle 3: Accountability Framework

7.1 Time Allocation

The standard contractual entitlement for an academic employee to engage in consultancy work provides up to 20% of the working year. It is assumed that consultancy work will be spread across the year, although in special circumstances, the Head of School may approve more concentrated periods of such work. Heads are asked to inform the Dean (or other appropriate officer) of individual consultancies in excess of 26 days over a period of 13 weeks or less.

7.2 Approvals (Application to Undertake Consultancy Work)

For each instance of consultancy work an employee must obtain written approval from the Head of School and providing details of the proposed activity on the Application to Undertake Consultancy Work Form (Application) prior to undertaking the work. In the case of ongoing work for a single organisation, approval is only required annually. The approval process must specify whether the work will be undertaken as a University Consultancy or a Private Consultancy. In approving the consultancy work, the Head of School is indirectly confirming that the employee is satisfactorily performing their normal duties in accordance with their contract of employment and the expectations of this policy.

In approving a Private Consultancy the Head must feel confident that the arrangements made do not put the University at risk. An employee engaged in Private Consultancy is not covered by the University's insurance policies and is responsible for obtaining their own professional indemnity, workers compensation, and public liability insurance (see also Legal Issues). In some circumstances professional indemnity insurance may not be necessary as the potential adverse consequences of consulting work will not involve any significant financial exposure. In such circumstances it is sufficient that the Head of School is satisfied this is the case. The Head of School may wish to consult the Division of Risk Management in making this assessment.

The Head of School shall approve or not approve the Application by giving written notice within seven (7) days, where practicable. Prior to approving the Application, the Head of School must be satisfied that all sections are fully completed (including signatures). Incomplete forms should be returned to the applicant for completion.

If the Head of School does not approve the consultancy work then the employee may ask for the Dean (or other appropriate officer such as the Senior Deputy Vice Chancellor in the case of single school faculties) to review the decision. The review process requires a copy of the Application, a statement by the employee as to why permission should be granted, and a statement from the Head of School detailing reasons for not approving the request. The Dean, or other appropriate officer, will decide, where practicable, within seven (7) days of receipt of the submission.

Heads of School wishing to undertake consultancy work must obtain approval from the Dean (or other appropriate officer). Deans wishing to undertake consultancy work must seek approval from the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

If an employee accepts consultancy work without approval, this will be deemed to be misconduct and may be subject to disciplinary action. Heads should obtain advice from the Director Human Resources before embarking on this course.

7.3 Information for Reporting and Record Keeping Purposes

For its broader reporting requirements to Senate for research funding planning, and to support the accountability process for audit and other purposes, the University requires completion of the following forms:

At the conclusion of each calendar year the Head of School must request the completion of a staff member's Annual Activity Return to the Head of School from all employees whose contracts provide for either University or private consultancy work to be undertaken. Completed returns are to cover the twelve month period to the end of December.

Nil Returns: Employees eligible to engage in consultancy work as defined in this policy but who have not done so are still required to complete a staff member's Annual Activity Return to the Head of School by ticking the 'No' box.

The aggregate of information appearing on employee returns as per the clause above must be summarised by the Head of School onto a School Activity Report which is to be forwarded to the Dean (or other appropriate officer). It is the responsibility of the Dean (or other appropriate officer), upon receipt of all School Activity Reports from Heads of Schools, and by 20th February each year, to forward these on to the Vice-Chancellor. Reports will filed on TRIM by the Human Resources Division, on behalf of the Vice-Chancellery.

Clear and accurate reporting within the above forms is essential. Heads of Schools must keep, for a period of at least two years, originals or copies of Applications, Staff Annual Activity Returns to the Head of School and Annual School Activity Reports. In some instances, a Head of School may seek for his/her formal records more detailed information from the employees about activities undertaken.

7.4 Audit Requirements

Officers from the internal audit group will visit individual schools on a test basis each year. Information from the aggregate reports will be available to Senate and other University committees for the purpose of annual reporting.

8 Principle 4: Legal and Financial Arrangements

8.1 Financial Recoup

Private Consultancy: Where the consulting is undertaken as a private consultancy, no University letterhead, stationery, postal address, phone number, fax number, email address or Web address, nor any other information that might associate the University with the Private Consultancy is to be used. Further, in ordinary circumstances the employee will not use any University facilities (power, space including laboratories, equipment including computers, and consumables). However, in circumstances where a Head of School agrees to the use of University facilities for a Private Consultancy, there must be reimbursement of the full costs. If it is determined that the employee has used University facilities (power, space including laboratories, equipment including computers, and consumables) without approval they may be subject to disciplinary action.

8.2 Return of Revenue to the University

It is to be noted that in a University Consultancy the revenue is returned to a School account and the consultancy is considered to have been done by the staff member(s) on behalf of the University. It is therefore University income and deemed to be public monies and must be treated in accordance with the Financial Management Act 2006 (FMA). Expenditure of these funds must satisfy the requirements of the FMA and be in accordance with the University Finance Policies and Procedures Manual. As such it must be spent on University activities and authorised per University delegation policy appropriate to the type of expenditure.

8.3 Payments to employees from University Consultancies

When work has been done as a University Consultancy the Head of School may agree to payment of a portion of the funds to a staff member. In this case the funds must be paid to the employee in their capacity as a University employee and payment must be made through the Human Resources payroll system. Any such arrangement must be made prior to or at the time of approval of the consultancy work and fully documented. Where it is not possible to arrive at an exact monetary figure, the amount may be expressed in terms of a proportion of the consultancy income.

The School may also choose to use the revenue from a University Consultancy to cover the costs of providing market salary loadings to staff meeting the criteria.

8.4 Legal Issues

When consultancy work is undertaken and approved as a University Consultancy, employees are covered by workers' compensation and University insurance policies. The Insurance and Risk Management Officer can provide advice on the specifics of potential liabilities and arrange for legal opinions in respect of any uncertainty regarding the extent of insurance cover required. The risk scales contained in the University's Risk Management Plan can be referred to for guidance. Note that the possible financial exposure from a consultancy is not always proportionate to the income received.

When consultancy work is undertaken as a Private Consultancy, the University will not accept any liability for accident or injury that may occur to the employee during the course of that work including travel to and from the place of work. It is the responsibility of the employee concerned to ensure that he or she is adequately covered by appropriate workers' compensation/personal accident insurance. Similarly, the University accepts no liability in regard to the work done. Employees must indemnify themselves through taking out public liability and professional indemnity insurance. Should an employee choose not to indemnify themselves, any risk is theirs alone. Employees should be particularly aware of the possibility of defamation and slander actions. Employees undertaking private consultancy should also ensure that the insurance coverage is adequate if the consultancy service is to be provided outside Australia.

Employees seeking to engage in a Private Consultancy are required to confirm their insurance coverage to the University (through the Head of School) prior to approval being granted. While the University is not responsible for work done by staff members under a private consultancy, if the staff member has insufficient professional indemnity insurance it is more likely that a party would seek to join the University to an action against the staff member.

Under no circumstances should employees engaged in consultancy work accept liabilities for third parties such as publishers, companies, partners, etc.

8.5 Sub Contracting

Employees who employ others or sub contract a portion of their University or private consultancy work to students or other staff are responsible for ensuring that approvals are granted and that professional indemnity insurance is in place where necessary. Any employee who participates in a consultancy arrangement as a 'sub-contractor' is required to seek independent approval from the Head of School and must ensure that adequate insurance (as detailed above) is in place. Employees are cautioned about the need to comply with existing legal requirements when using students for consulting work and it is recommended that they seek advice from Human Resources and Risk Management.

9 Other Provisions

9.1 University Contracts

Contracts between the University and external parties are often undertaken on University premises with the use of University facilities and employees. Projects in this category include research and development activities, testing or sampling services, practical and/or field-work studies, expert investigations, surveys, audio, video and film productions, script-writing, graphic work, etc.

A contract can only be entered into by the legally constituted entity; that is the University of Western Australia. Therefore, only the Vice-Chancellor and employees with the expressly delegated authority of the Vice-Chancellor (the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation), the Registrar, and the Executive Director, Finance and Resources), are empowered to sign contracts or agreements on behalf of the University. Agreements should normally provide that intellectual property rights and any equipment purchased should vest in the University and there should be no restrictions on publication. Any decision to divest University intellectual property or assets or limit publication rights requires the approval of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) as delegate of the Vice-Chancellor. Any previous relationship between the client organisation and the employee must be declared to the Vice-Chancellor.

Important points to note include:

9.1.1 Employee time, including support staff costs, shall be recovered in full. Costs shall include salary, salary-related costs, superannuation and on costs. Alternatively, the costs may be charged at professional rates. In most circumstances, the funds shall be credited to the School for its own use.

9.1.2 A realistic assessment of the non staff costs of the project, including consumables, postage, telephone charges and travel shall be made in establishing the fee for the contract.

9.1.3 A minimum infrastructure charge of 15% of the total value of the contract will be recovered by the University if the funding body relinquishes any rights to intellectual property. Full infrastructure costs of a minimum 35% should be charged if the funding body seeks full Intellectual Property ownership rights. See Recovery of University Infrastructure Costs.

9.2 University Duties

Other than teaching outside and in addition to regular duties, full time employees must gain the permission of the Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor, to act in a consultative, advisory or professional capacity for any School, Centre or service centre of the University.

There may be instances in which it is in the best academic interests of the University and its students to establish a formal agreement with a company owned and operated by one or more individuals who are also University employees. This is a form of Private Consultancy and, in such circumstances, it is essential for the Head of School and Dean, through the University's Legal Office, to prepare a formal legal documentation setting out the legal relationship.

An employee shall not accept fees for private coaching of students of the University except where such coaching has been approved by the Head of School.

9.3 Conflicts of Interest in University Business Transactions

It is the responsibility of every employee of the University involved in the supply of goods or services, to or on behalf of the University, to declare in writing all relevant interests that they may have in any proposed transaction.

An employee shall be deemed to have a relevant interest for the purpose of these rules if the employee or their immediate family is or could be the proposed supplier of goods or services, or if the employee or any of their immediate family has some interest whether as proprietor, shareholder, director, partner or otherwise in any firm, company or other business entity which is or could be the proposed supplier of the goods or services.

Proposed transactions include Tenders and Invitations to Tender for the supply of goods and services to the University.

All proposed transactions subject to such declarations shall be directed to the Executive Director (Finance and Resources), in the first instance. The Executive Director (Finance and Resources) may refer them to the Vice-Chancellor for approval in writing.

Any conflict of interest relating to research activity needs to be reported to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) as set out in the Guidelines on Research Ethics and Research Conduct.

Related forms:

Application to Undertake Consultancy Work

Staff Members Annual Activity Return

Annual School Activity Report to the Vice Chancellor

TRIM File No:

Contact position:

Manager, HR Policy and Planning

Related Policies or legislation:

This policy statement should be read in conjunction with relevant State and Federal legislation including:

The following related University policies may also be relevant: