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Ethics Officer - What happens after reporting?

The legislation is designed to give the appropriate authorities in the public service the opportunity to investigate and correct any wrongdoing that is reported.  If that is not done to your satisfaction and you decide to make a Second Step report, the Ethics Officer must begin an investigation.

The Ethics Officer may also:

  • Attempt to resolve the matter informally
  • Refer the matter to alternative dispute resolution
  • After making preliminary inquiries, decide that an investigation is not necessary or appropriate
  • Refer the matter to other appropriate authorities, such as the police.


The Ethics Officer has broad powers to investigate and collect evidence.

Once the investigation is completed, the Ethics Officer will prepare a written report with his conclusions and recommendations.  The person who reported the alleged wrongdoing will receive a copy and the report will be made public unless the Ethics Officer decides there are good reasons not to do that.  If the Ethics Officer concludes that wrongdoing took place and makes recommendations, the relevant Ministers must advise within 21 days what actions will (or will not) be taken to address the recommendations.


If the Ethics Officer decides not to investigate a matter, he must provide written reasons to you and to the Minister responsible for the Public Service Act


Can I be penalized for reporting wrongdoing?

It is against the law to penalize a person for making a disclosure of wrongdoing and there can be a fine of up to $10,000.  This is called an act of reprisal and includes any action, threat or attempt to suspend, demote, dismiss, discharge, expel, intimidate, coerce, evict, terminate a contract to which the person is a party without a cause, commence legal action against, impose a pecuniary or another penalty on or otherwise discriminate against the person because of a disclosure of wrongdoing by that person or because the person assists in the investigation of a disclosure made by another person.

You may file a complaint with the Ethics  Officer if you believe that you are the subject of an act of reprisal.  The Ethics Officer must then investigate the complaint in the same way that he would investigate a disclosure of wrongdoing.


At the conclusion of the investigation, the Ethics Officer will provide a copy of his report to:

  • the person who complained
  • the person who allegedly committed the act of reprisal
  • the deputy head of the person who complained or the responsible Minister
  • the Minister responsible for the Public Service Act
  • any other Minister who the Ethics Officer thinks is appropriate

If the Ethics Officer concludes the complaint of reprisal is valid, appropriate disciplinary action must be taken against the person who committed the act of reprisal and other action recommended by the Ethics Officer may be taken to deal with any loss or damage suffered by the person who complained.

Where other actions recommended by the Ethics Officer are not taken, the relevant deputy head and Ministers must provide an explanation to the Ethics Officer and must describe what other action, if any, will be taken in response to the recommendations.

Unless he decides it would not be appropriate, the results of an investigation into an alleged act of reprisal and the actions taken, or not taken, in response to his recommendations will be included in the annual report of the Ethics Officer.

Where the Ethics Officer decides that a disclosure was made in bad faith, the Minister may take appropriate disciplinary action against the employee.