Crown servants: new jobs and business appointments

Guidelines on accepting outside appointments, for Crown servants and their employing organisations


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

The rules are part of the Civil Service management code, and appear in appendix A.

The purpose of the rules is to avoid:

  • any 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 official who holds information about its competitors, or about impending government policy
  • the risk of a former official improperly exploiting privileged access to contacts in government

Guidelines for departments and agencies

The Cabinet Office publishes the guidelines. Amended guidelines for departments on administering the business appointment rules for civil servants will be published soon.

How to apply

Check the rules to see if your external appointment requires approval from your employing organisation. If in doubt, ask for guidance from your HR department.

Complete the model business appointments application form for civil servants (MS Word Document, 129KB) and send it to your HR department.

What happens next

Your employing department or agency may:

  • approve your application unconditionally
  • approve your application subject to conditions which may last for up to 2 years

Conditions or restrictions could include a waiting period before the appointment can be taken up, or a requirement that you should stand aside from certain activities for your new employer for a period.

Your employing organisation is also required to inform the new employers of any conditions that have been imposed on you.

Lobbying ban

Under the rules a lobbying ban means that the former Crown servant should not engage in communication with government (including ministers, special advisers and officials) with a view to influencing a government decision or policy in relation to their own interests, or the interests of the organisation by which they are employed or to which they are contracted.

Applications to ACOBA: ministers and senior Crown servants only

Only ministers and the most senior Crown servants (permanent secretaries, directors generaland their equivalents at SCS3 and above, and special advisers of equivalent standing) need to apply to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). They follow a specific procedure for making their applications.

Published 2 May 2012