Business appointment rules

What to do when you are leaving, or have left, Crown service or ministerial office, and you're starting another role.

Ministers and Crown servants at all levels, including all civil servants, special advisers, members of the armed forces and diplomats, are subject to the business appointment rules when accepting new appointments after Crown service. Depending on an individual’s seniority, these rules apply for either 1 or 2 years after leaving their role.

When you are leaving Crown service and are seeking to take up new employment (paid or unpaid), you must read these rules and consider how they apply to you. You may be required to submit an application and wait to receive advice, before you accept any new positions.

The aims of the rules are to avoid:

  • suspicion that an appointment might be a reward for past favours
  • the risk that an employer might gain an improper advantage by appointing a former civil servant or minister who holds sensitive information about its competitors, or about impending government policy
  • the risk of a former civil servant or minister improperly exploiting privileged access to contacts in government
  • unfair questioning or criticism of the integrity of former ministers or civil servants

How to make a business appointment rules application

Grades up to and including Director level (SCS2 or equivalent) should follow their departmental processes to apply.

Former ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Directors General and senior Special Advisers of equivalent grade must apply for advice from ACOBA before taking on any new role.

A full explanation on how to apply, and copies of the rules, are available via the links below.

The Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA)

ACOBA considers applications under the government’s business appointment rules for former ministers and the most senior Crown servants.  Applications at all other grades are dealt with by the relevant government departments.  ACOBA publishes its independent advice to departments and ministers when appointments are taken up.  You can read more about ACOBA and its regularly updated advice below.

Business appointment rules decisions by department

Departments publish their decisions, and any restrictions imposed, on business appointment rules applications from senior civil servants and special advisers in quarterly transparency publications.

The information available via these links is not owned by the Cabinet Office - it is owned and published by the relevant department, in accordance with the requirements under UK GDPR and the Privacy Notice for Government Transparency Data.

Published 2 May 2012
Last updated 21 March 2024 + show all updates
  1. Addition of link to DBT business appointment rules advice in 'Business appointment rules decisions by department' section.

  2. First published.