Standards of Conduct and Relationships with Contractors
Government employees are held to Standards of Conduct. All government employees engaged in a government procurement process are also held to the Standards of Conduct for Public Service Employees Engaged in Government Procurement Processes.
Complying with the standards is a condition of employment. Failure to comply may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
Below outlines the standards of conduct for employees engaged in procurement processes, as well other useful guidance in dealing with contractors. Refer to links above for the full text related to standards of conduct.
- Standard of Conduct: Confidentiality
- Standard of Conduct: Conflict of Interest
- Employer/Employee Relationships
- Subcontractor Relationships
- Post-Employment Restrictions
The BC Public Service Agency is responsible for these policies; contact MyHR with any questions regarding the standards of conduct.
Employees must exercise the strictest confidentiality regarding information pertaining to a procurement process. This applies both during and after employment. If in doubt as to what is confidential, refer to Guidance for the Release of Information and/or Documents Related to Competitive Procurement Opportunities, or ask the ministry Procurement Specialist or Information Access Operations before disclosing it.
Confidential information must not be used by an employee for the purpose of furthering any private interest or making personal gains.
A conflict of interest occurs when an employee’s private affairs or financial interests are in conflict with the employee’s duties or responsibilities. Employees who find themselves in an actual, perceived or potential conflict of interest must disclose the matter to their supervisor or manager. Failure to disclose may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. As per 6.3.2.a.3 of the Core Policy Manual (CPPM), any suspected conflicts of interest must be investigated and resolved.
22.214.171.124 of the CPPM states that a contract must not result in the contractor occupying an ongoing organizational position, and must not result in the establishment of an employer/employee relationship. Every contractor engaged by the government must be independent and operating at arm's length from government. But how can government staff know if an employer/employee relationship has been created or not? These questions may help – the more questions answered with a “yes”, the more likely that an employer/employee relationship may have been created.
- Are employees of government performing the same or essentially similar services?
- Have these services been provided in the past by employees?
- Are fringe benefits such as health insurance and/or vacation pay provided or part of the fee for service?
- Were the contract fees and/or benefits established by reference to any classification in a collective agreement?
- Does the contractor bill as an individual rather than a company?
- Is there any guarantee of minimum hours?
- Was the contract directly awarded (i.e., without competition) to a contractor for the services of an individual?
- Is the contract potentially renewable?
- Is there no penalty or consequence to the contractor in the event the service is not completed within the allotted time frame?
- Are advances provided on a regular basis?
- Is the contractor restricted in sub-contracting all or part of the contract?
- Are ministry staff involved in the selection or approval of the contractor’s sub-contractors?
- Does the contractor work beside or with ministry employees?
- Is the contract silent regarding the circumstances and reasons whereby the services supplied are subject to termination?
- Does the ministry have an exclusive right to the service of the contractor?
- Does the ministry provide any specialized training required for this contract? Is there any reimbursement of expenses associated with the training? Are employees required to undertake similar training?
- Does the ministry own any tools or equipment that the contractor uses for performance of the contract?
- Does the contractor make use of any of the following:
- Government office space;
- Government administrative services;
- Government stationary, forms, etc.;
- Government vehicles; or
- Any other government equipment/supplies?
- Is the contractor protected by the government in any way in matters of indemnification or negligence?
- Is the contractor required to report or liaise with a specified government official using government forms?
- Is the degree of monitoring equal to or greater than that of employees who have similar expertise, training or backgrounds?
- Is the contractor required to perform the work on ministry premises? Is there a requirement to perform the work during the same hours as ministry employees?
- Is the work performed by the contractor an integral part of a ministry program?
- If the services are provided by a mix of ministry employees and contractors, are there no distinguishing features between the services provided?
- If this contract was not let, would it have a direct effect on the ministry’s delivery of service in this area?
- Have any ministry materials such as client files, documents, or resource material been provided to the contractor in order to perform the service?
- Does the ministry supply business cards to the contractor?
- Does the contractor occupy a position that appears on ministry organizational charts?
- Does the ministry require the contractor to be listed in the Government of British Columbia telephone or email directory?
- Is the work requirement not well defined in advance and dependent on the development of ad hoc assignments during the course of the contract?
- Does the contractor receive day-to-day supervision by the ministry as to how the work is to be accomplished?
- Is the contractor’s work subject to intervention by the ministry during the course of the contract in the sense that the ministry may redirect the contractor into work that is outside the scope agreed upon?
- Does the contractor exercise financial receiving authority on behalf of the ministry?
- Is the contractor not registered with WorkSafeBC and mostly working on ministry premises or Crown land?
- Does the contractor supervise ministry employees?
Ordinarily, a contract between the Province and a contractor does not create a legal relationship between the Province and any subcontractors engaged by the contractor. Therefore, ministries should not deal directly with subcontractors regarding performance, payment or any other issues. Contract managers should deal directly with the contractor only for these matters. The contract will generally provide that the contractor is responsible for all deliverables, including those provided by their subcontractor(s).
Ministries are to make payments for deliverables directly to the contractor, who is responsible to pay their subcontractor(s). If the subcontractor(s) does not receive payment from the contractor, they are to try to obtain payment from the contractor and not the ministry.
There are post-employment restrictions for senior management in the BC Public Service. Human Resources Policy 13 states conditions that apply after employment ends, including not disclosing confidential information obtained through employment with the government, and waiting periods before a former senior manager can become a contractor for government. Any questions on this policy should be directed to MyHR.