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«CONTENTS 1. Introduction 2. Standards 3. Disclosure of Information 4. Political Neutrality 5. Relationships 6. Recruitment and Other Employment ...»

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Officers’ Code of Conduct

5B.

CONTENTS

1. Introduction

2. Standards

3. Disclosure of Information

4. Political Neutrality

5. Relationships

6. Recruitment and Other Employment Matters

7. Outside Commitments

8. Personal Interests

9. Equality

10. Tendering Procedures

11. Corruption

12. Financial Procedure Rules

13. Gifts

14. Exceptions

15. Hospitality

16. Sponsorship

Whistleblowing Procedure

5B - 1 April 2009 5B - 2 April 2009 Introduction 1.

1.1 This Code of Conduct is intended to apply to all local authority employees and uniformed Fire Fighters of the County Council. It explains in practical terms the standards of behaviour required under the law, under Conditions of Service, and under Council Procedure Rules.

1.2 The Nolan Committee identified seven principles which apply to all aspects of public

life, and therefore to all County Council employees. These general principles are:

Selflessness Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.

–  –  –

The Code of Conduct incorporates these principles.

1.3 The Local Government Management Board have published a Code of Conduct for Local Government employees, and this Code draws heavily on its contents.

1.4 Inevitably some of the issues covered by the Code will affect senior, managerial, and professional employees more than it will others. Nonetheless, it is intended to cover all employees under a contract of employment with the County Council, including office holders such as Registrars.

5B - 3 April 2009

1.5 Certain provisions in the Code deal with matters which can constitute a criminal offence, e.g. the section on corruption. Contravention of this and certain other provisions could additionally constitute a disciplinary offence which could result in disciplinary action. Employees should therefore read the document carefully and, if they have any queries or are uncertain about its content, please contact your immediate supervisor for advice.

1.6 This Code supplements, and does not replace, any code or recognised standards of conduct promulgated by any professional body of which an employee is a member.

Standards 2.

2.1 All employees of the County Council are expected to give the highest possible standard of service to the people of Cumbria and, where it is part of their duties, to provide appropriate advice to Councillors and fellow employees with total impartiality.

2.2 All employees are expected to report to their manager or supervisor any impropriety, breach of procedure, or any serious deficiency in the provision of service. [see Appendix on Whistleblowing]

2.3 In all cases, it is not enough to avoid actual impropriety. Employees should at all times do their utmost to avoid any occasion for suspicion and any appearance of improper conduct which would bring the reputation of the Authority into disrepute.

Disclosure of Information 3.

3.1 The law requires that certain types of information must be available to Councillors, Auditors, Government Departments, service users, and the public. If you are in any doubt as to whether you can release any particular information, always check with your manager first.

3.2 Employees must not use any confidential information obtained in the course of their employment for personal gain or benefit, nor should they knowingly pass it on to others who might use it in such a way.

3.3 Employees must not communicate confidential information or documents to others who do not have a legitimate right to know. Furthermore, such information which is stored on computer systems must also only be disclosed in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998.

3.4 Any particular information received by an employee from a Councillor which is personal to that Councillor and does not belong to the Authority should not be divulged by the employee without the prior approval of that Councillor, except where such disclosure is required or sanctioned by law.

–  –  –

4.2 Where an employee is requested to advise a full Meeting of a Political Group or its executive, the Chief Executive must be informed by the employee in advance of the Meeting.

4.3 All employees, whether holding politically restricted posts or not, must not allow their own personal or political opinions to interfere with their work.

4.4 The Political Assistants appointed by the Council are exempt from the standards set in paragraphs 4.1 – 4.3.

–  –  –

Mutual respect between employees and Councillors is essential to good local government. Some employees work closely with Councillors of the County Council.

Close personal familiarity between employees and individual Councillors can damage the relationship and prove embarrassing to other employees and Councillors, and should therefore be avoided.





–  –  –

Employees should always remember their responsibilities to the community they serve, and ensure courteous, efficient, and impartial service delivery to all groups and individuals within that community as defined by the policies of the Authority.

–  –  –

All relationships of a business or personal nature with external contractors or suppliers must be declared to your Chief Officer at the earliest opportunity. Orders and contracts must be awarded in accordance with the Council Procedure Rules, and no special favour should be shown to businesses run by, for example, friends and relatives.

Recruitment and Other Employment Matters 6.

6.1 Employees involved in appointments should ensure that these are made on merit.

6.2 In order to avoid any possible accusation of bias, employees must not be involved in any appointment where they are related to an applicant or have a close personal relationship.

–  –  –

6.4 Employees should not be involved in decisions relating to disciplinary, promotion, or pay adjustments for any employee who is a relative or with whom they have a close personal relationship, nor should they attempt to influence such decisions.

Outside Commitments 7.

7.1 Employees should not subordinate their duties to other private interests or allow official duties and private interests to conflict. No employee should take up any outside employment or appointment which conflicts with the Council’s interests.

7.2 Employees paid above scp.28 must not engage in any other business or take up any additional appointments without the agreement of their manager. The County Council will not unreasonably stop employees from undertaking additional employment, but such employment must not, in the view of the County Council, conflict or react detrimentally to the County Council’s interest or in any way weaken public confidence in the conduct of its business.

Personal Interests 8.

8.1 Employees must declare to their Chief Officer any financial or non-financial interests which they consider could bring about conflict with the County Council’s interests.

8.2 Section 117 of the Local Government Act 1972 requires employees to make a formal declaration about contracts with the Council in which they have a pecuniary interest.

Such declarations should be sent to the Deputy Chief Executive/Corporate Director – Finance and Central Services. It is a criminal offence to fail to comply with the provision.

8.3 Employees must not make official professional decisions about matters in which they have a personal involvement.

Equality 9.

9.1 All members of the local community and other employees of the County Council have a right to be treated with fairness and equality. Employees should observe all the Council’s policies on equal opportunities.

–  –  –

10.2 Employees in contractor or client units must exercise fairness and impartiality when dealing with all customers, suppliers, other contractors, and sub-contractors.

10.3 Employees who are privy to confidential information on tenders, or costs relating to either internal or external contractors, should not disclose that information to any unauthorised party or organisation.

Corruption 11.

11.1 Employees must be aware that it is a serious criminal offence under the Prevention of Corruption Acts for them corruptly to receive or give any gift, loan, fee, reward, or advantage for doing, or not doing, anything or showing favour, or disfavour, to any person in their official capacity. If an allegation is made, it is for the employee to demonstrate that any such rewards have not been corruptly obtained.

Financial Procedure Rules 12.

12.1 All employees involved in financial activities and transactions on behalf of the County Council, including budgetary control, payment of accounts, payment of salaries and wages, petty cash, and orders for works, goods, or services, must follow the Financial Procedure Rules as approved by the Council.

12.2 They must ensure that they use public funds in a responsible and lawful manner.

They should strive to ensure value for money to the local community, and to avoid legal challenge to the Authority.

Gifts 13.

13.1 A potential source of conflict between private and public interests is the offer of gifts, hospitality, or benefits in kind to employees in connection with their official duties.

13.2 With the exceptions listed below, an employee should refuse any personal gift offered to him or her, or to any family member, by any person or organisation who has dealings with the Council. Any such offer should be reported to the appropriate Chief Officer, or to the Chief Executive if the offer is to a Chief or Deputy Chief Officer. In the event of receiving a gift, legacy, or bequest in circumstances where services have been provided by the Authority, an employee should inform his or her Chief Officer and seek advice. Exercising undue influence over a client testator could invalidate a bequest and will be regarded as serious misconduct.

–  –  –

Exceptions 14.

14.1 Gifts of a promotional nature on the conclusion of any courtesy visit to a factory or firm of a sort normally given by that firm.

14.2 Gifts of a token value, often given at Christmas time, such as diaries, calendars, pens etc. (in general, any isolated gift of up to £10 in value).

Hospitality 15.

15.1 A reasonable amount of entertainment is a normal part of the courtesies of public life, but it is important not to create an appearance of improper influence, thus undermining public confidence.

15.2 Hospitality is sometimes offered to representatives of the Authority and is accepted at official, i.e. Council, level because that is reasonable in all the circumstances.

15.3 Where hospitality is offered to individual employees, special caution is needed where the host is seeking to do business with the Council or to obtain a decision from it. It is important to avoid any suggestion of improper influence. The question is one of judgment, and the following checklist of questions should help staff to decide whether a gift or an offer of hospitality should be accepted or tactfully rejected.

–  –  –

15.4 Officers should also be careful in responding to invitations to exhibitions or seminars, or visiting manufacturers, etc. There is an increasing trend towards linking such visits to a major sporting event, show, concert, etc. Such devices are clearly an attempt to legitimise offers of hospitality in the guise of business activities, and the presumption is that they should not be accepted.

15.5 In general terms, it will often be more acceptable to join in hospitality offered to a group than to accept something unique to yourself. When a particular person or body has a matter currently in issue with the Council, e.g. an arbitration arising from a contract, then clearly commonsense dictates that offers of hospitality be refused, even if in normal times they would be regarded as acceptable.

15.6 All offers of hospitality, whether accepted or not, should be reported to the Chief Officer concerned, who shall keep a record of such offers and the decision taken on acceptance or refusal, or, if the offer is made to a Chief Officer or Deputy, to the Chief Executive.

Sponsorship 16.

16.1 Where an outside organisation wishes to sponsor a County Council activity, whether by invitation, tender, negotiation, or voluntarily, the basic conventions concerning acceptance of gifts or hospitality apply. Particular care must be taken when dealing with contractors or potential contractors.

16.2 Where the Authority wishes to sponsor an event or service, neither an employee nor any partner, spouse, or relative, must benefit from such sponsorship in a direct way without there being full disclosure to an appropriate manager of any such interest.

16.3 Similarly, where the Council, through sponsorship, grant-aid, financial or other means, gives support in the community, employees should ensure that impartial advice is given, and that there is no conflict of interest involved.

–  –  –

Whistleblowing: Procedure and Guidance

Introduction

1.

1.1 The County Council expects the highest standards from all employees, including staff in schools and staff operating in Direct Service Organisations, and will treat seriously any concern that an employee may have about illegal or improper conduct.

1.2 The first part of Cumbria County Council’s Officers’ Code of Conduct covers ‘Standards’, and states that:The Nolan Committee identified seven principles which apply to all aspects of public life, and therefore to all County Council employees”.



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