A code of conduct lays out an organization's expectations and guiding principles for appropriate workplace behaviour. As illustrated by the samples, some policies also provide legal and ethical guidelines for relationships between employees, service users and clients.
A code of conduct policy should:
- Be designed with consideration for your organization's values, the clients you work with and the services you provide.
- Be driven by the fact that your organization's reputation and work environment are based on the actions and behaviours of your employees.
- Provide guidelines for acceptable behaviour.
- Emphasize the use of good judgment.
- Require compliance with all applicable legislation.
- Provide examples of prohibited actions or behaviour (which may not be exhaustive) that are regarded as misconduct.
- State the consequences for violations.
- Refer to other related policies, as applicable, such as handling confidential information, harassment, and/or conflict of interest.
Your code of conduct should be designed to suit the needs and expectations of your unique environment. After that, awareness and implementation become the keys to the success of a useful and practical code of conduct.
Sample code of conduct policy
Note: This sample policy has been provided by an anonymous organization.
The Organization expects employees to adhere to a certain standard of conduct in order to foster a work environment that is positive, productive, and motivating for everyone. Employees are expected to conduct themselves in such a manner as to inspire public confidence through fair and honourable activities, as it relates to the business of the Organization. Employees are expected to use common courtesy and good judgment regarding appropriate conduct at work and conduct themselves with integrity and professionalism at all times.
The Code of Conduct applies to all individuals acting in their capacity as employees of the Organization and carries the expectation that the employee will avoid any inappropriate conduct or acts which could negatively reflect on the organization.
It is the responsibility of every employee to know and comply with the provisions of the Organization’s Code of Conduct. If an employee is unsure of the proper course of action to take in a particular situation, they should speak to their manager. If an employee is unsure as to whether their actions may cause embarrassment or compromise the image and integrity of the Organization, they should not proceed before seeking further guidance. The following are examples of inappropriate conduct, (but not limited to):
- Falsification or destruction of records or documents;
- Acts of dishonesty or fraud (including falsification of expense claims);
- Unauthorized disclosure of information;
- Misuse of property, services, or resources;
- Abuse or misuse of Organization expense cards (e.g., using cards for non-business-related purposes);
- Operation of an Organization vehicle in violation of the law;
- Intentional damage or unauthorized use of Organization property;
- Inappropriate use of information technology networks and resources, including but not limited to viewing or downloading inappropriate content, downloading software without approval, or attempting to access another individual’s information;
- Negligence resulting in actual or potential harm to the Organization or its stakeholders;
- Impropriety or the appearance of impropriety;
- Breach of trust;
- Frustration of contract;
- Misuse of position/abuse of power;
- Criminal conduct;
- Unauthorized or excessive absence;
- Excessive tardiness;
- Failure to abide with any Organization policy, procedure, guideline or standard resulting in actual or potential harm to the Organization or its stakeholders;
- Unauthorized possession or use of alcohol and/or drugs on the Organization’s premises or while on Organization business;
- The possession of dangerous, deadly, or illegal weapons while on the Organization’s premises or while conducting Organization business;
- Unauthorized monitoring, recording, or accessing of conversations or other communications;
- Fighting, abusive language, threats, or threatening conduct;
- Failing to cooperate with, or providing false, misleading, or incomplete statements to, auditors, examiners, or other investigators regarding any matter relating to the Organization; and
- Other activities not in the best interest of the Organization or its stakeholders.
All violations of this policy will be investigated to the best of the Organization's ability and in a manner that ensures due process. This policy applies to violations that occur in the following locations:
- On Organization property; or
- Off Organization property if
- the violation was in connection with an Organization-sponsored or authorized activity; or
- the violation may have the effect of harming the reputation of the Organization.
Violations of these policies may require immediate action or investigation and could result in discipline, including dismissal.
Identify the person or position employees can approach if they have questions.
Reference any other policies, documents, or legislation that support the interpretation of this policy.
Indicate the date the policy came into effect and the date of any revisions.
Indicate the date the policy is due to be reviewed. This will vary based upon the policy.
Indicate who approved the policy and the date of approval (for example, the board, the human resources policy committee, the executive director).
Visit our article on Drafting an HR Policy to learn more about developing HR policies.
Important: This document is an example of a policy for a small to medium-size nonprofit organization operating in Canada. While certain assumptions have been made in the creation of this policy, it is your responsibility to adapt, modify, and customize the document to suit the particular needs of your organization.
The content of this sample policy is provided for information purposes only. No legal liability or other responsibility is accepted by or on behalf of HR Intervals, Imagine Canada, or its partners for any errors, omissions, or statements made within this document. HR Intervals, Imagine Canada, and its partners accept no responsibility for any loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of reliance on such information.