E13a: Conflict of Interest Policy

Guiding Principles

  1. The conduct of staff must not create suspicion of any conflict between their duties as employees of ORMS and their private interests.
  2. The actions (or inaction) of members of staff on behalf of ORMS must not create an impression to any third parties that they may have been influenced by a benefit to show favour or disfavour to any person or organisation.

Conflicts of interest

All staff members must declare a conflict of interest immediately they are aware of any possibility that their personal or wider interests could influence their decision-making.

All staff, managers and Directors at ORMS will strive to avoid any conflict of interest between the interests of ORMS on the one hand, and their personal, professional, and business interests on the other. This includes avoiding actual conflicts of interest as well as the perception of conflicts of interest.

If a member of staff has any third party pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests, which may give rise to conflicts of interest in the carrying out of their ORMS duties, they should report them to their line manager and/or to the Quality Manager. Practically this is done through submitting or updating their Register of Interests declaration.

ORMS maintains a Register of Interests. Interests are entered on the register and kept by the Quality Manager and Head of Administration. A summary (or redacted summary) of the Register may, at the discretion of the Quality Manager, be made available for inspection upon request by any person or body. For the avoidance of doubt, staff membership of ORMS shall not be regarded as a pecuniary interest for the purpose of discussing or deciding upon remuneration and conditions of service for staff in general.

Staff and Directors are required to complete an annual declaration of interests form.

In deciding whether to register an interest, staff should ask themselves whether members of the public in possession of the facts of the situation could reasonably conclude that the interest might influence the member of staff to act other than in accordance with the Guiding Principles detailed above. If so, the interest should be registered and the Directors will advise the member of staff if they can take part in consideration of any matters associated with that interest.

In the course of meetings or activities, staff members will disclose any interests in a transaction or decision where there may be a conflict between ORMS’ best interests and the staff member’s best interests or a conflict between the best interests of two organisations with which that the staff member is involved. After disclosure, the staff member may be asked to leave the room for the duration of the discussion and may not be able to take part in the decision depending on the judgement of the other committee members present at the time. After any such disclosure and the subsequent actions taken will be noted in the minutes.

Gifts and Hospitality

ORMS seeks to maintain high standards of propriety and probity. Members of staff may on occasion be offered gifts or hospitality simply as a mark of courtesy or gratitude. Such offers can place staff in a difficult position, since to refuse may cause offence but to accept may, in certain circumstances, be open to misinterpretation. These guidelines have been drawn up to avoid misunderstanding and to help staff deal with these difficult situations. ORMS’ Directors have approved them and the Auditors are aware of their existence.  ORMS expects all of its staff and students to follow the ethical behaviours set out in the Nolan Principles (reminder here).  Those are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership.  These principles underlie ORMS’ ethical framework and are incorporated into this policy.

Guidance

Gifts

Gifts from suppliers or potential suppliers of goods and services to ORMS (other than items such as diaries, calendars etc) should be declined.

Otherwise, gifts of an estimated value of up to £50 may be accepted at the discretion of the recipients. Any other gifts should be politely refused. However, where to refuse might reasonably be interpreted as giving offence or causing embarrassment, the gift should be accepted on behalf of ORMS, provided the recipient is satisfied that it is not being offered in return for any favour. Receipt of gifts in the latter category should be reported as soon as practicable to the Quality Manager who shall enter them on a register held for this purpose. The Quality Manager shall decide whether the recipient may retain the gift, whether ORMS should retain it, whether it should be disposed of e.g. to charity or, exceptionally, returned to the donor with an explanatory letter.

Hospitality

Hospitality such as meals or refreshments offered in the normal course of business may be accepted. As a general rule of thumb the frequency and scale of hospitality should not be significantly greater than ORMS would be likely to provide in return. Hospitality that might be regarded by a reasonable person as excessive in the circumstances or as a possible inducement should be politely declined. In such cases, staff may find it helpful to refer to these guidelines.

In particular, the following should be avoided:

  • hospitality offered in lieu of bona fide fees or expenses;
  • inducements which might be interpreted as being intended to create a contractual relationship between ORMS and a supplier of goods or services;
  • offers of hospitality, including travel or accommodation, except as part of an overall contract or memorandum of understanding;
  • regular or frequent acceptance of corporate hospitality, particularly from the same source.

In cases of doubt, colleagues should consult their line manager who may, if necessary, consult the Quality Manager, whose decision shall be final.