Understand the CaPE Case Categorisation Framework

CaPE Case Categorisation Framework

The CaPE Case Categorisation Framework exists to support agencies in the timely, proportionate and relevant management of unsatisfactory employee conduct or work performance, or allegations of same.

Inappropriate conduct and poor performance falls into three categories, from least to most serious:

  • Category 1
  • Category 2
  • Category 3

Each category has a corresponding benchmark timeframe in which the matter should be resolved. The benchmark timeframes are tabled below.

When deciding the category, agencies should consider:

  • the particular context, including whether the behaviour is repeated and whether the intent of the action/s is reckless, wilful or malicious;
  • the impact on the complainant, subject officer, workplace and reputational impact; and
  • the possible and likely outcomes if the concerns are substantiated

For example, interpersonal conflict could fall into Category 1, Category 2 or Category 3, depending on the circumstances.

The CaPE team can help you decide the right category, for matters which are not corrupt conduct.

Category 1

These matters involve:

  • inappropriate interpersonal conduct with colleagues, clients, or other stakeholders
  • inappropriate behaviour relating to minor management matters
  • performance requiring improvement.

Category 1 behaviour must be addressed promptly, and a record made of any action taken and the reasons for it.

Minor management matters or matters involving personality clashes should be addressed by using the performance management system or a dispute resolution processes (such as mediation or counselling). It is not appropriate to undertake extensive investigation of matters involving personality clashes. Minor types of management or conduct matters, if unaddressed, may be repeated and/or escalate to more serious issues.

If matters within this category continue or be repeated, consider categorising the continuing matters as Category 2.

Category 2

These matters involve:

  • conduct that would otherwise fall within Category 1, but warrants treatment as Category 2 due to its ongoing or repeated nature
  • minor misconduct: conduct or behaviour that is inconsistent with conduct standards expected of a public sector employee as described in the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service but is not wilful or malicious
  • careless or negligent performance of duties, rather than unsatisfactory performance due to lack of skill.

Matters within Category 2 should generally be dealt with through training and development or remedial action in the workplace, however this does not preclude an agency from implementing a discipline process where considered appropriate.

Minor misconduct does not include matters of underperformance or singular instances of interpersonal conflict. In the first instance, such matters should be dealt with through timely and appropriate management. If it continues, this may warrant the matter to be addressed using other mechanisms.

A complaint that is initially assessed as a Category 2 matter may be elevated to Category 3 on the recommendation of the manager or decision maker.

Category 3

These cases involve:

  • serious misconduct: conduct or behaviour that is inconsistent with conduct or professional standards and practices expected of a public sector employee as described in the Code of Conduct for the Queensland Public Service, and that is wilful, reckless, or malicious
  • conduct that, if proven, will warrant the commencement of a discipline process
  • conduct that, if proven, reasonably raises the possibility of termination of employment
  • conduct that is a breach of criminal law (3(b))
  • serious neglect of performance of duties

This category is for serious neglect of performance, duties or serious breaches of conduct expectations, where the behaviour does not meet the definition of corrupt conduct in the Crime and Corruption Act 2001 (PDF, 1.18MB).

Serious misconduct can occur in an official capacity or otherwise and could reasonably raise a question of employment suitability.

Criminal proceedings may result from an employee's behaviour in the workplace as well as from private actions.

Category 3 criminal cases involving police and courts could be lengthy. However there may be administrative action that can be undertaken concurrent with an investigation. In these instances, CaPE can provide advice and assistance.


Benchmark timeframes exist in the recognition that early and prompt resolution of matters have tangible benefits to the wellbeing of everyone involved. The timeframes allow for;

  • An initial evaluation of the matter
  • Information gathering
  • The decision maker to consider all information before them and make a decision on how to progress
  • The employee to be notified of what steps will be taken to resolve the matter

Timeframes are measured from the date an agency first becomes aware of a matter, through the receipt of a complaint, information or identification of a performance issue, to the date that the employee involved is advised, either verbally or in writing, of the action that the agency will take to resolve the matter.

Agencies should aim to resolve 75% of matters within benchmark timeframes.

Category 128 Days
Category 251 Days
Category 3(a)139 Days
Category 3(b)200 Days

All cases should be managed in a timely manner and agencies are expected to reach targets over time.

Report Performance and Conduct Data from your agency

Agencies provide data about:

  • conduct and performance management – number, category (categories 2 and 3), action to be taken, details of investigations, costs, duration, and outcomes
  • suspensions – number, type, duration, costs, reasons, and outcomes
  • discipline cases – number, timeframe, grounds, and outcomes.

Read more about conduct and performance reporting

Applying the CaPE Case Categorisation Framework

To support agencies apply the CaPE Case Categorisation Framework, a three stage approach to assess and manage conduct and performance matters has been developed. The approach supports the proactive and timely resolution of matters.

Initial review of the matter  - stage one

  • The initial review determines the details of the matter, the issue type and whether the matter should be categorised under the CaPE reporting framework.

Determine the seriousness of the matter  - stage two

  • In stage two, the unique circumstances of a matter are considered to determine the seriousness and appropriate CaPE reporting category.

Manage and plan to resolve the matter - stage three

  • In the final stage, consideration is given to any actions that need to occur immediately to mitigate risk and develop a plan to resolve the matter in a timely way.

More information