This code is based on, and consistent with, the following seven principles which are set out in Section 28 of the Localism Act 2011, and which were originally set out by the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life.
The following sections set out how the general principles are applied to different aspects of conduct. The code cannot describe every possible circumstance that may occur.
Employees and managers need to exercise good sense and judgement in deciding whether specific situations fall within the code or not. For employees a key guideline is: when in doubt as to whether the code applies, ask your manager.
You have a responsibility to act in accordance with the Council’s equal opportunities policies, statutory guidance and best practice. Service decisions and activities must not favour one person or section of the community on any grounds which would be in contravention of equal opportunity principles.
All forms of unlawful discrimination, victimisation, bullying and harassment, in any form is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Allegations will be investigated and dealt with under the Council’s disciplinary policy where necessary.
You serve the Council as a whole. This means that all councillors are served equally, irrespective of their political group or affiliation, and you must unsure that the individual right of all councillors are respected.
You must not allow your own personal or political opinions to interfere with your work or influence the advice you give to Councillors, the public or other staff.
If your job involves you giving advice to political groups, you must do so in ways which do not compromise your political neutrality.
If your post is designated a “politically restricted post” under the provisions of the Local Government & Housing Act 1989, certain additional rules will apply to you and you should have been informed of these rules when you are appointed. It is your responsibility to acquaint yourself with the rules, if they apply to you.
If your post becomes politically restricted during the course of your employment, then you will be notified.
Posts affected by these rules (politically restricted posts) fall into the following categories:
Exemptions to this Act (ie not politically restricted) are:
If you are unsure if your post falls within the politically restricted categories, or whether your post is exempt from the political restrictions, you should speak to your manager or the Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services.
Personal relationships may develop with colleagues, councillors, contractors, customers and clients. You should not allow a personal relationship to place you in a position where you are unable to carry out the duties of your job in a proper and impartial manner. Certain directorates have particular rules regarding personal relationships, and you should ensure that you abide by these.
You should inform your manager if you have, or develop, a close personal relationship with another employee which could be considered, by colleagues or others, to have an impact on how you conduct yourself at work. The information will be treated with confidentiality.
You must maintain a professional working relationship with colleagues, councillors, contractors, customers and clients.
Elected councillors are subject to their own statutory Code of Conduct which addresses relationships between councillors and employees.
If a relative or close personal friend is a candidate for a post that you are involved in the recruitment for, you must discuss this with your manager.
It may be appropriate for you to withdraw from the process, if your manager considers this appropriate and it is practicable for you to do so.
You must follow the Council’s Recruitment and Selection Policy and ensure fairness is applied at all stages.
The law requires that certain types of information must be available to members, auditors, government departments, service users and the public. Your manager must identify, and make you aware of this information at induction, including outlining when additional information is relevant.
Information you gather while working for the Council must not be used for personal or commercial gain, or be otherwise misused.
You must not destroy, alter or falsify any document or record, whether for personal gain or to cover up, mislead or deceive other people.
You must comply with the Council’s Data Protection Policy.
You must not pass on information to anyone not entitled to receive it, nor post it on any public forum or any social media platform.
You must comply with the Council’s Social Media Policy.
You must not pass on to the public or press, information from any Committee or meeting, from which they have been excluded.
You must not deal directly with the press or media, or make any public statement, unless you have been authorised to act as an official spokesperson.
You may be subject to “restrictive covenants”, which are intended to protect the Council’s confidential information, which restrict you from disclosing or using such information during and after leaving employment.
In certain circumstances, receiving hospitality may be acceptable. Where that is the case, you must discuss it with your manager and the details – the type of hospitality offered and the person/organisation offering it – should be recorded in a register maintained by your directorate.
Examples of generally acceptable hospitality are:
Examples of hospitality which should be declined include:
If you are offered a gift you should consider whether it is one of “low” value (£25 as at 2020). You must use common sense and tell your manager, who should decide if the gift is acceptable or should be declined. It must be recorded in a register maintained by your directorate.
Examples of generally acceptable gifts:
Gifts should be declined if it is from anyone who is, or may be in the foreseeable future, tendering for any contract with the Council, seeking planning permission, seeking employment or in dispute with the Council.
The Bribery Act 2010 makes it an offence to seek, accept or agree to accept a financial or other advantage as an inducement or reward to perform a function improperly. In simple terms, for public employees, agency and contracted staff it is a crime to seek or accept a financial or other advantage in return for making a decision, granting an award or performing any other public function, regardless of what decision is made. The maximum sentence for a bribery offence is 10 years imprisonment.
The Bribery Act 2010 also makes it an offence for employees to offer or pay bribes and both the individual and the organisation may be prosecuted.
The Local Government Act 1972 makes it an offence for employees to accept any fee or reward (including gifts) for their employment other than their proper pay, and on conviction employees are liable to be fined.
You are expected to dress appropriately for the role for which you are employed. You must be mindful of the impact your appearance will have on the client/customer relationship.
If you are required to wear a uniform you must conform to that requirement.
You are required to comply with any Health & Safety clothing requirements.
If you have personal, cultural or religious objections to these requirements, you should discuss them with your Head of Service who will consider each case on its merits and take appropriate action.
You are not prohibited from personally obtaining goods and services from organisations that deal with the Council. However, you must make sure that you are not being offered preferential rates in an attempt to influence the Council to use that organisation. As far as possible, make sure that the price you are quoted is a competitive one.
If you are authorised to award or recommend the award of contracts to an individual or an organisation, you should try to avoid using that individual or organisation for the purchase of goods or services for yourself, unless it can be demonstrated that there was little or no alternative. This should be declared to your manager if this happens.
This does not affect the purchase of goods or services at discount rates negotiated through a scheme endorsed by the Council or a Trades Union.
In general, what you do outside work is your own concern. However, you must avoid doing anything which may result in damaging the Council’s reputation. Some actions, including serious misconduct or criminal offences can lead to disciplinary action and may lead to dismissal.
Remember that if you are expected to wear a uniform as part of your job, and wear it outside working hours, you can be identified as a Council employee and you must act appropriately while wearing the uniform.
For certain professions, if it is considered that you have brought the profession into disrepute, you may be struck off the professional register and no longer able to practise.
If you take on, or consider taking on, paid or unpaid work in addition to your work at the Council, you must be certain that it does not have an adverse effect on your work for the Council and does not conflict with the interests of the Council.
You must declare any personal interest or activities that may be perceived by others as being potentially in conflict with the Council’s interests.
You should bring this to the attention of your manager to check that it is acceptable for you to do it. In particular, you must ensure that you comply with the following conditions:
There may be situations where it may be appropriate to carry out some form of unpaid “outside work”, academic research or other task in the workplace. Generally this would only be appropriate out of work time (e.g. during lunch breaks or outside normal work hours) and in no way for personal gain.
It is accepted that you will have outside interests and will support, or belong to, different groups or organisations, whether this is paid or unpaid. You should declare to your manager your involvement or interest (financial and non-financial interests) if and when your outside activities, or the activities of the group you belong to, could conflict with the Council’s interests or Council policy, or with your duties and responsibilities as an employee.
You should declare to the Council’s Monitoring Officer (Assistant Director of Legal and Democratic Services) membership of any organisation not open to the public without formal membership and commitment of allegiance and which has secrecy about rules or membership or conduct (for example, Freemasons). The Monitoring Officer will keep a confidential record of such declarations.
Failure to comply with the Code of Conduct could lead to criticism of the Council or you. In such cases, the Council’s Disciplinary Procedure would apply.
If you have any concerns about the application of any part of this code to your own circumstances you should discuss it, as soon as possible, with your manager.