P3 – Conflict of Interest
Originator: Vice President – Finance and Administration
Approver: President’s Council
Effective: April 2019
Replaces: April 2015
It is virtually impossible to avoid all Conflict of Interest. In fact, not all Conflict of Interest is wrong or unacceptable. Conflict of Interest may be an act that is forbidden or illegal, or it may be an activity that must be disclosed and monitored. Therefore, this policy seeks to encourage employees to recognize and avoid situations that are questionable or give the appearance of impropriety.
College employees will avoid circumstances which place them in real or perceived Conflict of Interest situations. College employees will disclose all issues that have the potential of Conflict of Interest for evaluation.
Conflict of Interest – refers to a situation which gives an individual the opportunity for external personal or financial gain arising from their employment at the College. Such a situation may make it difficult for an employee to fulfill the duties of their employment fairly. Conflict of Interest occurs when a person acts in a way that:
- Is incompatible with the impartial, objective and effective performance of the responsibilities and duties of their employment at the College;
- Is detrimental to the interests of the College; or
- Is potentially harmful to the integrity or mission of the College.
Most commonly, the interest in question is that of an individual. However, this policy applies equally to one whose actions are advantageous to a family member, associate, or organization with which the individual has an affiliation.
Conflict of Interest exists because of the circumstances of the situation. It is not dependent on the character, motives, or intentions of the individuals involved.
Perceived Conflict of Interest – occurs when an independent observer might reasonably question whether the individual’s professional actions or decisions are determined by considerations of personal gain – financial or otherwise.
Potential Conflict of Interest situations may include, but are not limited to, the following:
4.1 – Outside Professional Activities and Business Interests
- Consulting – Consulting is a professional activity related to a person’s field or discipline where a fee-for-service or equivalent relationship with a third party exists. A College employee acting as a consultant on personal time will avoid using College resources (such as facilities, laboratories, studios, equipment, Information Technology resources) without reimbursing the College.
- Teaching/Lecturing – Employees of the College may be invited by various organizations to make presentations in their field of expertise. The College encourages this participation in the community, providing that such ventures do not disrupt College services or impose a financial burden on the College. Any money received from a presentation should be remitted to the College, except when the presentation is done on the employee’s own time.
- Business – College employees will not engage in business in competition with the College. This includes business conducted personally, through a family member or other associate, or through a firm in which the employee has a financial interest.
- Volunteering / Sponsorships – An employee will avoid circumstances where her/his volunteer interests benefit from a corresponding detriment to the College (including, but not limited to seeking discounted space for fundraising events). In addition, an employee will not use his/her position with the College to gain preferential access to College facilities for the benefit of their volunteer organization. Furthermore, all College sponsorships will be administered in accordance with the College’s Sponsorship Guidelines.
- Instructional Materials – An instructor must receive prior approval from the Dean of the School in order to specify as a required text or reading material a work that they have personally authored. Instructors and non-instructional staff will not inappropriately influence the purchase of course related goods or services.
4.2 – Receipt of Gifts, Benefits, Complimentary Items, Travel Expenses
- An employee will not, either directly or indirectly, demand or accept for personal benefit a gift, favour, or service from any individual or company doing business with the College. The following may be accepted, subject to the limitations of 4.2 (c):
- The normal exchange of hospitality between persons doing business together;
- Tokens exchanged as part of protocol;
- The normal presentation of gifts to persons participating in public functions.
- An employee will not, either directly or indirectly, use her/his purchasing authority at the College for personal benefit. This includes but is not limited to using preferential College pricing for personal benefit.
- An employee may keep a door prize when it is offered to all attendees at a conference, seminar, trade show, or like event which attendance was paid for by the College.
- Employees are not to accept gifts in cumulative excess of $200 annually without a declaration to, and the approval of the Chief Human Resource Officer.
- Employees shall not accept monetary remuneration, or honoraria. Should cultural protocol demand that such a gift be accepted, an employee will remit the gift to the Chief Human Resource Officer immediately for proper dispensation.
- Careful consideration should be given to offers from suppliers which pay for the expenses of an employee to attend seminars, conferences, plant visits and the like. The College should not be placed in a position where it is beholden to suppliers.
4.3 – Employee/Student Relationships
- Employees will avoid Conflict of Interest situations that may impede or compromise their responsibility to maintain a fair learning environment. Faculty will instruct, supervise, and evaluate students in an impartial and effective manner.
- The power imbalance that exists between employees and students is not to be used for personal benefit. A Conflict of Interest exists in situations in which there is, or could be, a reasonable apprehension that a particular relationship between an employee and a student may confer upon the student an unfair advantage or subject the student to an unfair disadvantage.
- Instructors or non-instructional staff who may have influence, input or decision making power in a student’s educational career, will not seek to or become involved in a business, romantic, or sexual relationship with a student for the duration of the time such a power imbalance exists.
- Instructors will not show favouritism to particular students. Favouritism creates an inequitable learning environment. Instructors will distribute their time and teaching resources equitably to all students in their classes.
- Failure to give proper recognition to any reliance on the ideas, work or assistance of students constitutes a Conflict of Interest. Use of work done or results obtained by students may only be used with prior permission from the students.
4.4 – Personal Representation of the College
- Employees must not create the impression that they represent the College’s opinion or policy when conducting personal, political or business activities as private persons. Certain employees of the College may, by the very nature of their position (i.e., Senior Management, College Relations, etc.) be presumed to represent the College’s opinion or policy when conducting personal, political or business activities. Persons who hold such positions are obligated to take reasonable steps necessary to make it abundantly clear that their opinions or activities are not those of the College. College employees will not use the name of the College when engaging in supplementary professional activities.
- Employees must not use College letterhead, College name or logo, College signature blocks, or other College identifiers when they are not conducting College business.
4.5 – Nepotism
- The College does not prohibit members of the same immediate family to be employed by the College. However, Conflict of Interest may occur at the time of hiring, during the employment relationship or where a family relationship has changed during an existing employment relationship.
- A direct supervisory relationship between immediate family members will not normally be allowed to exist.
- An employee will not actively participate in the hiring process of another family member, nor will they attempt to influence such a decision.
- An employee will not actively participate in deliberations regarding promotion of another family member.
- An employee will not participate in an evaluation of job performance of another family member.
- An employee will not participate in any of the following when a student is a family member:
- Decisions regarding admitting or selecting a student into a course or program;
- Evaluation of an academic nature. Should such evaluation be unavoidable due to the size or nature of a program, this evaluation will be declared to the Chair of the program for approval;
- Determination of a student’s progress or academic standing;
- Decisions regarding student prizes, awards or financial support; or
- Decisions regarding student discipline or sitting on a Student Appeal Committee.
4.6 – Use of Confidential Information
- It is acknowledged that employees may be exposed to private, personal, or confidential information in the course of their employment with the College. Personal information is protected by legislation and illegitimate disclosure is illegal. Private, personal, or confidential information will not be used for any unauthorized purpose.
- Employees will not manipulate the release of information, either by delaying it or releasing it prematurely, for their own purposes.
Employees found in breach of the policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.
A10 – Intellectual Property and Copyright
IT1 – Acceptable use of Computer Facilities
P6 – Principles of Conduct – Disclosure, Consequences, and Responsibilities