Conflict of Interest Policy
This policy sets standards and guidance on how to manage conflicts of interest in an ethical manner. The Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade is committed to preventing adverse consequences that can arise from conflicts of interest, as well as the appearance of favouritism, undue influence, or impropriety.
A conflict of interest exists when a reasonable person might perceive that your personal interests could be favoured or have influence over your public duties.
Conflicts of interest can be:
- Actual – a conflict currently exists between your work duties and your personal interests.
- Potential – no conflict currently exists, but circumstances do exist that mean there could be a conflict in the future.
- Perceived – there is no actual or potential conflict, but any reasonable person might perceive or believe that a conflict exists.
Unless otherwise stated, a reference in this policy to a conflict of interest is a reference to any actual, potential, or perceived conflict of interest.
Managing conflicts of interest is important, because NSW citizens should rightly expect that staff of the Department, or their close connections and associates, should never be in a position to obtain undue personal benefits. Noting that:
- In most cases, only you will be aware of the conflict of interest. Consequently, the onus is on you to identify and declare any such interests in accordance with this policy.
- It can be challenging to assess objectively whether your own personal interests are in conflict with your work duties. Therefore, you should act with caution and make a disclosure if you are unsure about whether there is a conflict of interest. If you’re not sure, declare.
- A conflict of interest can involve the inflicting harm or disadvantage on another and not just an advantage that improperly favours the public official or their associates.
Avoiding conflicts of interest
While having a conflict of interest is not necessarily wrong, you should avoid placing yourself in conflicting situations where it is practical to do so. This can be achieved by avoiding:
- assignments and tasks that could conflict with your private interests (which you should discuss with your manager)
- investments or financial arrangements that could relate to your duties
- commercial dealings with suppliers and other stakeholders that are not on a normal arm’s length basis
- situations in which professional relationships could develop into personal relationships
- social media activity that could be perceived as compromising your impartiality.
All persons undertaking work for or engaged by the Department in either a paid or unpaid capacity (staff) must comply with this policy.
- all Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade employees (ongoing, temporary, and casual and those on secondment to the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade), contractors and agency staff engaged to perform work for, or on behalf of, the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade;
- work experience students and volunteers; and
- consultants where their engagement requires adherence to the Code.
- disclose all conflicts of interest in accordance with this policy
- work with your manager or other appropriate colleagues to ensure conflicts of interest are properly managed
- not allow your interests to affect the way in which you carry out your duties
- protect the reputation of the Department by considering how a conflict of interest situation, whether actual, perceived, or potential, may impact the Department. Update your Conflict of Interest Declaration in myCareer whenever your personal circumstances have changed or when a conflict of interest may be seen to affect the way you carry out your duties. Refer to Annexure A for examples.
The Department requires those in the scope of this policy to complete an annual conflict of interest declaration in myCareer and make any updates throughout the year as soon as possible for your manager’s review. Your manager may escalate if they require guidance from experts such as the Director Governance, Audit and Risk or General Counsel. You should also comply with the requirements of the Department to disclose conflicts of interest during processes relating to procurement, recruitment, and project management. If you are unsure of the declaration process during these activities, you can check with the Director Governance, Audit and Risk or General Counsel.
Any failure to disclose a conflict of interest or conduct which favours a personal or professional interest is in breach of this policy and may subject you to serious adverse consequences.
Refer to Annexure A for examples of different types of conflicts of interest.
Managing a conflict of interest
The interests of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade and the public interest must always be put ahead of an individual’s interests. Once your conflict of interest has been disclosed in accordance with this policy you must:
- together with your manager, discuss and document how the conflict of interest will be managed. This should be done by completing the Conflict of Interest Declaration Form in myCareer.
If you are a manager, and one of your staff has disclosed a conflict of interest, you must:
- ensure the disclosure is documented (i.e., using the form in myCareer)
- if necessary, make further enquiries to verify the accuracy and completeness of the disclosure
- together with the affected staff member, discuss and document within the Conflict of Interest Declaration Form how the conflict of interest will be managed (i.e., management plan)
- monitor the situation to ensure compliance with the agreed management plan.
Conflicts of interest can involve the disclosure of information that may be private in nature, such as details about personal finances and relationships. While you must disclose this information, if required, personal information will typically only be shared with relevant Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade staff where necessary to ensure the conflict is appropriately managed.
In some limited situations, it may be necessary to disclose information to other NSW Government agencies. This will be discussed with you if that is to occur and the reasons for that explained to you.
Further policy requirements
The following additional policy requirements apply.
Dealing with yourself or your family
You must not process transactions, make decisions, or be involved in workplace duties that involve your personal affairs as a citizen interacting with the Department, without the written authorisation of your manager. The same requirement applies to matters involving members of your immediate family. In addition, you may not self-approve transactions that provide you with a personal financial benefit (for example, payroll, overtime, leave and expense reimbursement matters) unless you have written permission.
Personal dealings with suppliers and service providers
You should avoid making personal purchases from the suppliers and service providers of the Department unless there is a complete separation of relationship during these transactions. Seeking discounts or favourable terms from suppliers through being a staff member at the Department for personal purchases could create a conflict of interest.
Secondary employment or business
You may not engage in any secondary employment including paid, unpaid, or voluntary without the written permission of your manager. This can be sought by completing the ‘Outside Employment Form’ located under the forms tile in myCareer. If granted, approval for secondary employment must be renewed at least annually.
Managers, before approving any secondary employment please refer to the HR Delegations Schedule.
Breaches of this policy may result in disciplinary action. Breaches that are reasonably suspected to amount to corrupt conduct will be reported to the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption. Breaches that amount to criminal conduct will be reported to the police. You must report any reasonably suspected breaches of this policy in accordance with the Department’s Public Interest Disclosure Policy.
Further information about this policy and the management of conflicts of interest can be obtained by:
- contacting the Director Governance, Audit and Risk or General Counsel
- visiting the website of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption or the website of the Public Service Commission.
The Department may amend this policy from time to time as appropriate.
Next Review Date
Director Governance, Audit and Risk
- Financial interests
- People who are more than acquaintances
- Connections to people who have provided income or may provide income
- Organisations, clubs, and people connected to them
- Connections to people and entities who have given benefits or favours
- Other close connections.
This information is indicative only.
As a general rule, the personal interests of your family members and close connections are considered to be your personal interests.
Financial interests can be direct or indirect, potential, contingent or realised, short or long term, and can stem from both gains and losses. The financial interests of your immediate family members or any other member of your family economic unit are normally deemed to be your interests. Examples of financial interests include:
- sources of income, including secondary employment
- ownership or lease of land, buildings, and property
- shares or investments in companies, partnerships, or other entities
- beneficial interest in a trust or deceased estate
- loans or debts
- an option to buy or sell an asset or any other anticipated future financial benefit.
Any relationship with a person who is more than an acquaintance, could be a personal interest. This typically includes spouses, relatives (including relatives by marriage), friends, romantic partners, close colleagues, mentors and social connections. It can also include people with whom you formerly had a close relationship, for example, a previous spouse, ex-colleague or an old friend. Feelings of enmity or hatred towards a person can also constitute a personal interest.
Other sources of income are financial interests. However, the people and entities associated with that income are also likely to be personal interests. Examples can include:
- any current provider of secondary or other employment
- current or former business partners
- customers, significant suppliers or contractors of a private business or other employer
- providers of future employment or business opportunities
- relationships with former employers and colleagues, especially if there is ongoing social contact.
A personal interest may arise from a connection with organisations or clubs that may be professional, sporting, recreational, community, arts, social and so forth. Hobbies about which you are passionate could also be classed as a personal interest.
Officials may have a personal interest if they could feel indebted or obligated to anyone who has provided gifts, benefits, hospitality or favours. It is not necessarily the gift or benefit itself that causes the conflict of interest, but the potential relationship and sense of obligation or expectation that could arise.