Find out about the Standards of Conduct and how they govern the work of BC Public Service employees.
Standards of Conduct and Oath of Employment
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This policy statement applies to all persons and organizations covered by the Public Service Act.
The policy statement supports the core policy objective that “public service employees exhibit the highest standards of conduct.”
Employees will exhibit the highest standards of conduct. Their conduct must instill confidence and trust and not bring the BC Public Service into disrepute. The honesty and integrity of the BC Public Service demands the impartiality of employees in the conduct of their duties.
The requirement to comply with these standards of conduct is a condition of employment. Employees who fail to comply with these standards may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Public service employees have a duty of loyalty to the government as their employer. They must act honestly and in good faith and place the interests of the employer ahead of their own private interests. The duty committed to in the Oath of Employment requires BC Public Service employees to serve the government of the day to the best of their ability.
Confidential information, in any form, that employees receive through their employment must not be disclosed, released, or transmitted to anyone other than persons who are authorized to receive the information. Employees with care or control of personal or sensitive information, electronic media, or devices must handle and dispose of these appropriately. Employees who are in doubt as to whether certain information is confidential must ask the appropriate authority before disclosing, releasing, or transmitting it.
The proper handling and protection of confidential information is applicable both within and outside of government and continues to apply after the employment relationship ends.
Confidential information that employees receive through their employment must not be used by an employee for the purpose of furthering any private interest, or as a means of making personal gains. (See the Conflicts of Interest section of this policy statement for details.)
BC Public Service employees may comment on public issues but must not engage in any activity or speak publicly where this could be perceived as an official act or representation (unless authorized to do so).
Employees must not jeopardize the perception of impartiality in the performance of their duties through making public comments or entering into public debate regarding ministry policies. BC Public Service employees must not use their position in government to lend weight to the public expression of their personal opinions.
BC Public Service employees may participate in political activities including membership in a political party, supporting a candidate for elected office, or seeking elected office. Employees’ political activities, however, must be clearly separated from activities related to their employment.
If engaging in political activities, employees must remain impartial and retain the perception of impartiality in relation to their duties and responsibilities. Employees must not engage in political activities during working hours or use government facilities, equipment, or resources in support of these activities.
Partisan politics are not to be introduced into the workplace; however, informal private discussions among co-workers are acceptable.
BC Public Service employees must provide service to the public in a manner that is courteous, professional, equitable, efficient, and effective. Employees must be sensitive and responsive to the changing needs, expectations, and rights of a diverse public in the proper performance of their duties.
Employees are to treat each other with respect and dignity and must not engage in discriminatory conduct prohibited by the Human Rights Code.
The prohibited grounds are:
Further, the conduct of BC Public Service employees in the workplace must meet acceptable social standards and must contribute to a positive work environment.
Bullying or any other inappropriate conduct compromising the integrity of the BC Public Service will not be tolerated.
All employees may expect and have the responsibility to contribute to a safe workplace. Violence in the workplace is unacceptable. Violence is any use of physical force on an individual that causes or could cause injury and includes an attempt or threatened use of force.
Employees must report any incident of violence. Any employee who becomes aware of a threat must report that threat if there is reasonable cause to believe that the threat poses a risk of injury. Any incident or threat of violence in the workplace must be addressed immediately.
Employees must report a safety hazard or unsafe condition or act in accordance with the provisions of the WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulations.
Employees must conduct themselves professionally, be fit for duty, and be free from impairment (such as alcohol or drugs).
A conflict of interest occurs when an employee’s private affairs or financial interests are in conflict, or could result in a perception of conflict, with the employee’s duties or responsibilities in such a way that:
While the government recognizes the right of BC Public Service employees to be involved in activities as citizens of the community, conflict must not exist between employees’ private interests and the discharge of their BC Public Service duties.
Upon appointment to the BC Public Service, employees must arrange their private affairs in a manner that will prevent conflicts of interest, or the perception of conflicts of interest, from arising.
Employees who find themselves in an actual, perceived, or potential conflict of interest must disclose the matter to their supervisor, manager, or ethics advisor.
Examples of conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:
The following four criteria, when taken together, are intended to guide the judgment of employees who are considering the acceptance of a gift:
Employees will not solicit a gift, benefit, or service on behalf of themselves or other employees.
To assist employees, managers, ethics advisors and deputy ministers in managing conflict of interest issues, the BC Public Service has established guidelines, tools and other resources.
Please review the conflict of interest information on Careers & MyHR for more information.
Employees have a duty to report any situation relevant to the BC Public Service that they believe contravenes the law, misuses public funds or assets, or represents a danger to public health and safety or a significant danger to the environment.
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.
Employees must report their allegations or concerns as follows:
These reporting requirements are in addition to an employee’s obligation to report to the comptroller general as outlined in Section 33.2 of the Financial Administration Act. Where an employee believes that the matter requires a resolution and it has not been reasonably resolved by the ministry, the employee may then refer the allegation to the appropriate authority.
If the employee decides to pursue the matter further then:
Employees may also report wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (PIDA) to their supervisor, ministry designated officer, Agency designated officer or the ombudsperson.
Employees can find information about what types of wrongdoing may be reported under the Act and the process for reporting in HR policy 24 – Public interest disclosure (PDF, 219KB) and the procedures for managing disclosures.
Please review the public interest disclosure information on Careers & MyHR.
Employees who are unsure about whether their concerns could be considered under the Public Interest Disclosure Act can seek advice from a supervisor, a designated officer or the ombudsperson.
An employee reporting a wrongdoing under the Public Interest Disclosure Act to the ombudsperson is not required to report the same wrongdoing to their employer unless the ombudsperson does not investigate or does not refer their disclosure.
Reporting a wrongdoing to the ombudsperson does not affect an employee’s obligations to co-operate in any investigation into the subject matter of the wrongdoing.
Employees must not sign affidavits relating to facts that have come to their knowledge in the course of their duties for use in court proceedings unless the affidavit has been prepared by a lawyer acting for government in that proceeding or unless it has been approved by a ministry solicitor in the Legal Services Branch, Ministry of Attorney General. In the case of affidavits required for use in arbitrations or other proceedings related to employee relations, the Labour Relations Branch of the BC Public Service Agency will obtain any necessary approvals. Employees are obliged to cooperate with lawyers defending the Crown’s interest during legal proceedings.
A written opinion prepared on behalf of government by any legal counsel is privileged and is, therefore, not to be released without prior approval of the Legal Services branch.
Employees involved in a personal relationship outside work which compromises objectivity, or the perception of objectivity, should avoid being placed in a direct reporting relationship to one another.
For example, employees who are direct relatives or who permanently reside together may not be employed in situations where:
The above restriction on working relationships may be waived provided that the deputy minister is satisfied that sufficient safeguards are in place to ensure that the Employer’s interests are not compromised.
Employees are to disqualify themselves as participants in human resource decisions when their objectivity would be compromised for any reason or a benefit or perceived benefit could accrue to them.
For example, employees are not to participate in staffing actions involving direct relatives or persons living in the same household.
Employees may hold jobs outside government, carry on a business, receive remuneration from public funds for activities outside their position, or engage in volunteer activities provided it does not:
Employees who are appointed as directors or officers of Crown corporations are not to receive any additional remuneration beyond the reimbursement of appropriate travel expenses except as approved by the Lieutenant Governor in Council.