New Code of Conduct — effective July 1, 2019
The Code, definitions and examples
- The Code of Conduct is a detailed framework to guide the conduct of employees in a way that supports the University’s mandate, vision and mission, and the interests of the public it serves.
- Appended to the Code are the relevant sections of the Collective Agreements (also required) that supplement the interpretation and application of the Code.
Although Mount Royal has had a Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest policy, this new Code is mandated by recent changes to the Conflicts of Interest Act of Alberta. The legislation applies to all public sector employees including employees of all post-secondary institutions. The Office of the Ethics Commissioner approved the Code and required that Mount Royal’s two former documents be combined into one new policy with specific wording changes.
- Mount Royal had an existing Code of Conduct and an existing Conflict of Interest policy, which were used as the foundation of this document.
- Changes to the Conflicts of Interest Act ("COI") in Alberta required all post-secondary institutions to review and revise their codes of conduct to ensure compliance with the COI and to have the codes of conduct approved by the Ethics Commissioner of Alberta.
- New elements were mandated by new provincial legislation; specifically, concurrent employment and paid appointments, gifts and hospitality, and impartiality.
- These changes were reviewed and approved by the Office of the Ethics Commissioner for Alberta and were approved by the Board of Governors.
- When the process of revising the Code began, Mount Royal had two separate policies: the Code of Conduct Policy and the Conflicts of Interest Policy. In early 2018, the two policies were revised to comply with our understanding of the legislation. These revised policies were posted for the University's 30-day consultation period and then forwarded to the Office of the Ethics Commissioner for review.
- On July 1, 2019, the new Code of Conduct will replace the current Code of Conduct and the Conflict of Interest Policy.
- A conflict of interest arises when an employee has a personal or outside interest that conflicts with the best interest of the University. The possibility of the employee being improperly influenced by the conflict is considered the central issue, not whether the employee acts on it.
- Although it can’t anticipate every possible scenario, the Code of Conduct provides examples of what is considered a real or perceived conflict of interest. See Section G, part 8: Examples of conflicts of interest.
- Any outside activity for which an employee is paid is considered concurrent employment or activity.
- Unless the volunteer work or appointment gives rise to an actual or perceived conflict, it does not need to be reported.
- It applies to all employees of the University as they carry out their job responsibilities. This includes full-time and contract faculty; full- and part-time staff; contract and casual employees; and management, exempt and student employees.
- The President has additional obligations, as described in the Code and in provincial legislation. The Board of Governors also have additional obligations, which are described in a separate Code of Conduct — Board of Governors.
- As stated in the document, nothing in the Code of Conduct limits the rights, duties, responsibilities and freedoms recognized by law, in professional and/or disciplinary standards or codes and in the MRFA and MRSA collective agreements.
- In cases where a Collective Agreement and the Code of Conduct both pertain to a particular issue, the Collective Agreement will prevail.
Identifying, disclosing and reviewing a potential conflict
- The Code provides examples of conflicts, which are intended to guide the conduct of employees. If you are in a situation that is similar to anything in the Code, it may be a conflict.
- After reading the Code of Conduct, discuss with your supervisor any concerns or questions you may have. A supervisor is the manager of your department/unit or, in the case of faculty, your dean, director or associate vice-president. Supervisors can work with Human Resources to review potential conflicts.
- Employees with a potential conflict of interest must disclose this information to their supervisor and complete all parts of the disclosure form, and sign to indicate that the information provided is accurate and complete.
- The Code also explains how to report a suspected conflict concerning someone else, either in writing to the AVP of Human Resources or anonymously using ConfidenceLine. See Section I: Breaches of Code of Conduct for more information.
- As a baseline, all employees will complete the disclosure form to confirm they have read and understand the Code of Conduct and to indicate whether a conflict may be present.
- This must be done by September 30.
- Examples of what is considered a real or perceived conflict of interest are provided in the Code. See Section G, part 8: Examples of conflicts of interest.
- Only those who have a potential conflict of interest as defined in the Code must complete additional sections of the disclosure form. All employees must affirm that the information provided is accurate and complete.
- New employees will be asked to complete the disclosure form and any employee will be expected to submit a follow-up form if that employee’s circumstances change in such a way that might present a conflict.
- Employees will be expected to review or confirm on an annual basis that their disclosures are up to date and/or submit a revised form if their circumstances have changed.
- Managers are the first point of contact for a potential conflict. If the situation warrants, the manager will involve Human Resources in a review or investigation and/or consult the employee’s Collective Agreement. Review Section F: Employee Responsibilities, no. 3 and the appendices in the Code of Conduct to understand the steps you must follow.
- The employee’s immediate supervisor will review the information and will work with the employee involved to ensure a thorough understanding and review. This is explained in detail in Section H: Conflict of Interest Disclosure and Review Process.
- It will be reviewed by the Associate Vice-President of Human Resources (or the Vice-President, Finance and Administration, if the complaint were about the Associate Vice-President of Human Resources).
- In the case of MRFA and MRSA members, the employee’s Collective Agreement will guide the review process. For non-unionized employees, the Terms and Conditions of Employment will be used.
- Conflicts may be permitted only if they can be managed in a way that complies with legislation, does not compromise the interests or reputation of the University, and could withstand the test of reasonable and independent scrutiny. That would have to be determined in a thorough and fair review.
- Employees are expected to avoid activities that present an actual or perceived conflict of interest unless those conflicts are disclosed in writing, assessed, and appropriately addressed according to procedures in the Code of Conduct. Examples of conflicts of interest are provided in Section G, part 8: Examples of conflicts of interest (pg. 8).
- An employee found to be in a conflict of interest that cannot be managed will be expected to take action to remove that conflict as soon as possible.
- Nothing in the Code limits the rights, duties, responsibilities and freedoms recognized by law, in professional and/or disciplinary standards or codes and in collective agreements of employees.
- In the case of discrepancy between the Code and a collective agreement, the latter takes precedence.
- The limits in the Code of Conduct were mandated under the new Conflicts of Interest Act. In enforcing these limits, Mount Royal is abiding by the Government’s directions. All of the provisions in the Code are intended to help employees avoid situations that may give rise to a conflict of interest.
- The provisions around conferences are explained in Section G: Conflict of Interest, part 4: Acceptance of gifts and hospitality.
- Provided it meets the provisions in the Code, outside employment for contract faculty members is pre-approved if any of the following applies:
- their other position is unpaid
- their outside employment is at another post-secondary institution
- they teach no more than two 3-credit equivalent courses per semester at Mount Royal
- their outside employment requires them to be a member of a professional association that has its own code of conduct with disciplinary procedures. The relevant associations are listed in Appendix C of the Code.
- Any outside employment or activities for full-time faculty members must be disclosed and reviewed.
- Research grants are considered concurrent employment, but only those research grants that are not administered by Mount Royal must be reported.
- If Mount Royal is aware of concurrent employment or appointments at the time of hiring a full-time faculty member, that activity is deemed to be pre-approved and does not need to be reported.
- Outside employment of fewer than 20 hours per week is pre-approved and does not need to be reported, provided it meets the provisions in the Code and does not interfere with an employee’s normal hours of work or performance of duties.
- Outside employment for student employees is pre-approved and does not need to be reported, provided it is in the retail, service or hospitality industry and meets the provisions in the Code.
- No. An employee’s role with either association is not considered a conflict.
Enforcement of the Code
- The outcome of a review would depend on the situation, but employees who do not comply with the behavioural standards identified in the Code will be subject to disciplinary action by the University. Please read your Collective Agreement and the Code in full for an explanation.
- The conflict may be permitted only if it can be managed in a way that complies with legislation, does not compromise the interests or reputation of the University, and could withstand the test of reasonable and independent scrutiny. That would be determined in the review.
- Yes, employees can appeal to their next level of supervision within 10 days. The resolution and appeal process is explained in Section I: Breaches of Code of Conduct.
- Employees who fail to disclose a real or perceived conflict, or who do not comply with the behavioural standards identified in the Code, may be subject to disciplinary action as set out in their respective collective agreement or terms and conditions of employment. This may include dismissal.
- Anyone with a concern about the conduct of an employee is encouraged to report the concern anonymously through ‘ConfidenceLine’ or in writing to the AVP of Human Resources. Employees are protected from any retaliation when reporting in good faith and with reasonable grounds.
- Managers have a number of responsibilities under the Code, including ensuring their employees read and understand the Code, and related to the handling of disclosures and due process. Please see Section F: Employee Responsibilities, no. 3.