Come Forward About Unethical Behaviour
Employees who have concerns about unethical conduct are encouraged to come forward and have a duty to report wrongdoing as outlined in the Standards of Conduct. Sometimes these concerns are about behaviour that is impacting employees directly. In other cases employees who observe the behaviour are not directly impacted or involved, but they observe unethical conduct that should be looked into. Learn who to talk to about ethics.
Public service employees have a duty of loyalty to the government as their employer, and must act honestly and in good faith and place the interests of the employer ahead of their own private interests. You are encouraged to seek advice from the BC Public Service Agency and share concerns with your manager (or ethics advisor). They will decide if further action is warranted or required.
Reporting concerns about unethical behaviour is encouraged and sometimes required by the Standards of Conduct or other legislation and policies. Standing up for ethics aligns with our BC Public Service values of integrity, courage, service, accountability, teamwork, passion, and curiosity.
Some examples of conduct that employees are encouraged to report:
- Conflicts of interest
- Threats of violence (the Standards of Conduct clearly outline where employees must report safety threats, including any incident of violence)
- Inappropriate workplace conduct
- Theft or fraud
- Bullying and harassment
- Inappropriate disclosure of confidential or personal information
- Inappropriate use of government IT resources
- Off-duty conduct that could bring government into disrepute
When reporting in good faith wrongdoing under the Standards of Conduct:
"Employees can expect such matters to be treated in confidence, unless disclosure of information is authorized or required by law (for example, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act). Employees will not be subject to discipline or reprisal for bringing forward to a deputy minister, in good faith, allegations of wrongdoing in accordance with this policy statement."
After Bringing Forward Concerns
When employees raise allegations of misconduct, they often have a natural interest in knowing that steps have been taken and what the outcome will be. They may also have some worry because they have brought allegations forward.
Inquiries about ethical conduct will be treated with discretion and professionalism. This includes not only the person bringing forward a complaint, but those involved in any investigation. Supervisors in these situations and others involved must balance employees' interest in knowing more information with the need to protect the privacy of all employees involved and not disclose information that could impact the integrity of the investigative process. Learn more about sharing the results of misconduct allegations.
Wherever a ministry is contemplating such a disclosure, advice should be sought from the Public Service Agency. Legal advice may also need to be sought to ensure that any information disclosed is authorized and appropriate.
If an Investigation is Required
Where investigations proceed, the Public Service Agency and the ministry look carefully at each case to determine what steps may be taken to protect the person who reported the issue in good faith.
Each case will be different, and steps taken will be context specific. The Public Service Agency cannot guarantee the anonymity of a person who reports an allegation, but all participants in the investigation are advised that retaliation in any form will not be tolerated. In certain cases, steps could be taken to change reporting relationships or reassign the employee to a new branch pending the outcome of the investigation.