– Code of Conduct and Ethics Administrative Guidelines –

Dealing with Others

Inspection, Regulatory or Discretionary Authority

Employees are not to exercise regulatory, inspectional or other discretionary authority over others where the nature of the relationship may bring the employee's impartiality into question. Employees shall not give preferential treatment to relatives or others if it could be perceived that the employee is conferring the benefit or advantage as a result of the relationship.

Employees are required to advise the Deputy Head or designate if this situation arises, and the Deputy Head or designate will ensure that the matter is handled by another employee or in some other acceptable manner.

In emergency situations where it may not be possible to obtain direction prior to handling the issue, the employee is expected to handle the situation impartially and then advise the Deputy Head or designate.

Employees are expected to seek clarification with their Deputy Head or designate if they are uncertain as to whether dealing with a particular individual(s) would fall within this section.

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Working with Relatives

This section addresses conflict or favouritism situations which may occur between employees who are related to one another. This is not in violation of section 7 of the Alberta Human Rights Act with respect to spouses, provided that the restriction on employment is based on nepotism (favouritism shown to a relative) and not strictly on marital status.

An employee who is directly involved or exercises influence over the assignment of duties, performance evaluation or related responsibilities would be considered to be in a supervisory role. The Deputy Head or designate may approve an exemption to this section of the Code in exceptional circumstances, such as in an isolated location where the only qualified and available candidate is a relative. In this circumstance, the department may outline procedures to be followed in such areas as compensation and performance assessment in order to minimize conflict.

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Recruitment and Selection of Employees

Selection panel members are required to withdraw from competitions where applicants include relatives or other individuals, where the situation could raise the question of the employee's impartiality. No favouritism is to be shown in the staffing process. This process should be fair and should be seen to be fair.

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Disclosure

Employees are required to declare the possibility of conflict of interest under this section.

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Examples - Conflicts in Dealing With Others

  • Your staff have reviewed bids for contracts and you find that your uncle's firm has been recommended to be awarded one of the contracts. This could be viewed as a conflict of interest. In this case, you should immediately advise the Deputy Head or designate and remove yourself from the situation.

  • You are the line supervisor conducting interviews and a relative of yours applies for the position. You should advise your Deputy Head or designate immediately of the situation in order to ensure someone else can handle the interview.

  • It could be a conflict if a meat inspector was to inspect a site which was owned by a personal friend.

  • A conflict of interest or favouritism situation arises when a supervisor and an employee marry. Options for resolution include transfer or resignation of one of the employees.

  • You are an auditor and you discover that your brother was directly involved in the project you are auditing. You should immediately advise your Deputy Head or designate and remove yourself from the audit project.

  • You perform an inspection function and realize that your current assignment will require the inspection of a relative's facility. Depending on the discretion exercised, or variance from normal standards, a conflict may arise. In situations where the decision involves significant variances from the norm the employee should withdraw and advise their Deputy Head or designate. If directed to carry out the inspection by the Deputy Head or designate the employee will not be in violation when acting in accordance with directions given. The important issue is disclosure on the part of the employee.

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About this Guideline

Authority:   Code of Conduct and Ethics Regulation
Application:   Organizations Under The Public Service Act
Effective Date:   March 18, 1998
Contact:   Labour Relations

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