Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct

At Macquarie University, our values determine how we behave toward our students, our staff and our community.

We are ethical, enquiring, creative, inclusive, agile and excellent. These values are what Macquarie University stands for. We will bring these values to life in everything we do.

The Staff Code of Conduct (Code) confirms that commitment and outlines the expectations that can be made of all staff at Macquarie University. As a member of the Macquarie University community, all staff are expected to perform their duties and conduct the academic and business activities of the University with efficiency, fairness, impartiality, integrity, honesty and compassion.

A number of the obligations and standards set out in this Code are also found in legislation. All staff are expected to act with integrity which includes being aware of and acting within the laws that apply to their conduct at the University. The University recognises that questioning and criticising laws can be a valid part of academic work. Such questioning and criticism is to be undertaken within the spirit of respect for individuals.

Staff are required to comply with this Code.

Ethics

An ethical environment relies upon individuals having responsibility for their own professional behaviour. The University's Ethics Framework incorporates fundamental principles that apply to the University and members of the University community.

  • Staff are expected to be familiar with and undertake their activities in accordance with the Ethics Framework, the provisions of this Code, and University policies and rules.
  • Behaviour should be informed by the expectations of the University community and on advice of senior colleagues.

Personal and professional behaviour

Staff members are to perform any duties associated with their position diligently, impartially and conscientiously, to the best of their ability.

In the performance of their duties, each staff member is to:

  • treat members of the public, students and other staff members with courtesy and sensitivity to their rights
  • provide all necessary and appropriate assistance
  • strive to keep up-to-date with advances and changes in the body of knowledge and the professional and ethical standards relevant to their area of expertise
  • comply with any relevant legislative, industrial or administrative requirements, and all University rules, policies and procedures
  • maintain adequate records to support any decisions made
  • strive to obtain value for public money spent and avoid waste and extravagance in the use of public resources
  • conform with the principles of sustainability, as enunciated in the University's Sustainability Policy
  • maintain the confidentiality of official information in accordance with its Privacy Statement
  • avoid undertaking any activity that could potentially compromise the performance of their duties
  • facilitate compliance and adherence to this Code.

Equity, diversity and social inclusion

A central tenet of the University tradition is respect for a range of views and opinions. Staff will be instrumental in creating a work and study environment where all members of the University community are able to participate fully, find a sense of belonging, and have opportunity to engage meaningfully with the broader community.

  • Staff will act to create a fair, inclusive and safe University environment, where diversity is valued and where unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation in any form are considered unacceptable.
  • Staff will seek to understand their rights and responsibilities in relation to State and Federal anti-discrimination legislation and integrate the principles of equality of opportunity, natural justice and inclusivity into their day-to-day practices and behaviours.

Conflicts of interest

Conflicts of interest are inevitable in modern universities and do not, of themselves, imply impropriety. A conflict of interest will arise, however, where a staff member engages in activities or advances personal interests at the expense of the University's interests or the interests of other staff members or students. In these circumstances, the staff member must declare the conflict to their supervisor and take immediate steps to resolve the conflict of interest.

Staff are to avoid any financial or other interest or undertaking that could directly or indirectly compromise, or appear to compromise, the performance of their duties. Staff faced with a potential conflict of interest must seek advice from their supervisor or other senior members of the University.

The following situations are provided as examples of where a potential for conflict of interest exists:

  • financial interests
  • personal and family relationships between staff members
  • personal and family relationships between staff members and students
  • research.

A. Financial interests

  • A staff member who has a financial interest in a company and is in a position to influence contracts for business between that company and the University should declare this potential conflict to their supervisor before acting for the University in matters with the company.

B. Personal and family relationships between staff members

  • Where staff are working with family members or with persons with whom they develop close personal relationships or such relationships exist with prospective staff they must be aware that this has the potential to create a conflict of interest if one staff member is:
    • involved in a decision relating to the selection, appointment or promotion of another
    • in a supervisory relationship to another and is responsible for employment-related decisions. Such decisions could include the provision of opportunities and resource allocation for research, conferences and staff training and development; and referee reports, or annual performance development reviews.

C. Personal and family relationships between staff members and students

  • Staff members have the obligation to assess all student work fairly, objectively and consistently. A personal or family relationship between a staff member and a student for whom they have direct teaching or assessment responsibility will compromise this obligation. Such responsibility may include the supervision of students; the assessment of students; the selection of students for admission; the award of medals or scholarships; or the provision of referee reports.
  • In such cases, the staff member must bring the matter to the attention of their supervisor and take immediate steps to resolve the conflict.
  • Staff members, in many cases, will be best placed to identify such potential or actual conflict. Therefore, the onus is on the staff member to notify the appropriate senior member of staff if a potential or actual conflict of interest arises.

D. Research

  • Conflicts of interest in research may occur when a staff member's responsibilities conflict with their private or personal interests, raising questions of objectivity and/or improper gain. Most conflicts can be successfully resolved without impeding research activity.
  • Examples include:
    • A staff member undertaking research trials which are sponsored by a company in which the researcher or associate has a financial interest or holds an executive position.
    • A staff member holding an equity interest or executive position in a start-up company that has contracted with the University to conduct further research.
    • A staff member who chairs a committee responsible for allocating internal funding for research at a faculty of university level where funding is granted to the chairs' academic unit.
    • Staff members who are unsure about whether a conflict of interest in research exists must seek advice from a more senior member of staff.

Acceptance of gifts or benefits

From time to time staff may be offered gifts such as equipment, consumables, entertainment and hospitality from external donors. As an employer, and a public authority, the University has an obligation to ensure compliance with relevant legislation and adopted codes of ethics and codes of practice. In relation to the receipt of a gift or benefit, all staff are subject to the provisions of the University's Gifts and Benefits Policy.

Public comment

Macquarie University is committed to the principles of academic freedom, and its expectation that staff will challenge society's ideas and contribute to open debate by commenting publicly within areas of their professional expertise. In commenting publicly, staff members are subject to the provisions of the University's Public Comment Policy.

Official information

Staff members have a duty to maintain the confidentiality, privacy, integrity and security of official information that they have access to in the course of their employment.

The collection, retention and release of personal or proprietary information must only occur in accordance with relevant legal authority and under the provisions of the Privacy Statement.

University resources

  • Macquarie University recognises that some reasonable private use by staff of University resources (including facilities and equipment such as phones, PDAs and computers) is appropriate, but such usage remains at all times at the discretion of the University.
  • Staff who are uncertain about personal usage must seek the advice of their supervisor.
  • University resources must not be used for the purposes of private or individual commercial business.
  • University facilities and equipment are the property of the University and are provided for University business.

Outside work

Staff members are permitted under certain conditions to engage in outside work. Such matters are governed by the provisions of the University's Outside Work Policy and the Macquarie University Enterprise Agreement.

Compliance

All staff are required to comply with this Code.

  • Breaches of standards or obligations in this Code may lead to criminal or civil proceedings or to disciplinary action, which can involve the possibility of dismissal, demotion or suspension.
  • Staff should also be aware that the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has the power to investigate potential corrupt behaviour by employees of the University and to recommend prosecution in cases of potential criminal behaviour and activity.

Reporting

If a staff member becomes aware of actual or potential breaches of this Code, they should deal with them in an appropriate manner. This involves, wherever possible, raising concerns or allegations internally in the first instance. Such actions do not preclude later referrals of matters to bodies external to the University. There are a number of avenues available to staff who wish to report actual potential breaches of this Code, including notifying:

  • a senior member of University staff
  • the Director, Equity and Diversity
  • the NSW Ombudsman
  • the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption
  • through Protected Disclosure
  • the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

References

The main legislation which is relevant to this Code includes:

  • Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW)
  • Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
  • Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 (NSW)
  • Protected Disclosures Act 1994 (NSW)
  • Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (NSW)
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act 1983 (NSW)
  • Public Finance and Audit Act 1983 (NSW)
  • Macquarie University Act 1989 (NSW)
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) with amendment 1992,1995
  • Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 1999 (Cth)
  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth)
  • Child Protection Legislation (NSW) - various
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
  • Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW)
  • Ombudsman Act 1974 (NSW)
  • Transgender (Anti-Discrimination and other Acts Amendment) Act 1996 (NSW)

Approval authority: Director, Human Resources

Date of Commencement: May 2010

Date of Review: May 2012

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