Scottish Commission on Social Security: Code of Conduct for Board Members

Code of Conduct agreed by the SCoSS Board Members.

Section 3: General Conduct

3.1 I will treat everyone with courtesy and respect. This includes in person, in writing, at meetings, when I am online and when I am using social media.

3.2 I will not discriminate unlawfully on the basis of race, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender reassignment, disability, religion or belief, marital status or pregnancy/maternity; I will advance equality of opportunity and seek to foster good relations between different people.

3.3 I will not engage in any conduct that could amount to bullying or harassment (which includes sexual harassment). I accept that such conduct is completely unacceptable and will be considered to be a breach of this Code.

3.4 I accept that disrespect, bullying and harassment can be:

  • a one-off incident,
  • part of a cumulative course of conduct; or
  • a pattern of behaviour.

3.5 I understand that how, and in what context, I exhibit certain behaviours can be as important as what I communicate, given that disrespect, bullying and harassment can be physical, verbal and non-verbal conduct.

3.6 I accept that it is my responsibility to understand what constitutes bullying and harassment and I will utilise resources, including the Standards Commission’s guidance and advice notes, my public body’s policies and training material (where appropriate) to ensure that my knowledge and understanding is up to date.

3.7 Except where it is written into my role as Board member, and / or at the invitation of the Chief Executive, I will not become involved in operational management of my public body. I acknowledge and understand that operational management is the responsibility of the Chief Executive and Executive Team.

3.8 I will not undermine any individual employee or group of employees, or raise concerns about their performance, conduct or capability in public. I will raise any concerns I have on such matters in private with senior management as appropriate.

3.9 I will not take, or seek to take, unfair advantage of my position in my dealings with employees of my public body or bring any undue influence to bear on employees to take a certain action. I will not ask or direct employees to do something which I know, or should reasonably know, could compromise them or prevent them from undertaking their duties properly and appropriately.

3.10 I will respect and comply with rulings from the Chair during meetings of:

  • my public body, its committees; and
  • any outside organisations that I have been appointed or nominated to by my public body or on which I represent my public body.

3.11 I will respect the principle of collective decision-making and corporate   responsibility. This means that once the Board has made a decision, I will support that decision, even if I did not agree with it or vote for it.

    3.12 I will comply with the rules, and the policies of my public body, on the payment of remuneration, allowances and expenses.

    3.13 I understand that I may be offered gifts (including money raised via crowdfunding or sponsorship), hospitality, material benefits or services (“gift or hospitality”) that may be reasonably regarded by a member of the public with knowledge of the relevant facts as placing me under an improper obligation or being capable of influencing my judgement.

    3.14 I will never ask for or seek any gift or hospitality.

    3.15 I will refuse any gift or hospitality, unless it is:

    • a minor item or token of modest intrinsic value offered on an infrequent basis;
    • a gift being offered to my public body;
    • hospitality which would reasonably be associated with my duties as a board member; or
    • hospitality which has been approved in advance by my public body.

    3.16 I will consider whether there could be a reasonable perception that any gift or hospitality received by a person or body connected to me could or would influence my judgement.

    3.17 I will not allow the promise of money or other financial advantage to induce me to act improperly in my role as a board member. I accept that the money or advantage (including any gift or hospitality) does not have to be given to me directly. The offer of monies or advantages to others, including community groups, may amount to bribery, if the intention is to induce me to improperly perform a function.

    3.18      I will never accept any gift or hospitality from any individual or applicant who is awaiting a decision from, or seeking to do business with, my public body.

    3.19      If I consider that declining an offer of a gift would cause offence, I will accept it and hand it over to my public body at the earliest possible opportunity and ask for it to be registered.

    3.20 I will promptly advise my public body’s Standards Officer if I am offered (but refuse) any gift or hospitality of any significant value and / or if I am offered any gift or hospitality from the same source on a repeated basis, so that my public body can monitor this.

    3.21 I will familiarise myself with the terms of the Bribery Act 2010 which provides for offences of bribing another person and offences relating to being bribed.

      3.22 I will not disclose confidential information or information which should reasonably be regarded as being of a confidential or private nature, without the express consent of a person or body authorised to give such consent, or unless required to do so by law. I note that if I cannot obtain such express consent, I should assume it is not given.

      3.23 I accept that confidential information can include discussions, documents, and information which is not yet public or never intended to be public, and information deemed confidential by statute.

      3.24 I will only use confidential information to undertake my duties as a board member. I will not use it in any way for personal advantage or to discredit my public body (even if my personal view is that the information should be publicly available).

      3.25 I note that these confidentiality requirements do not apply to protected whistleblowing disclosures made to the prescribed persons and bodies as identified in statute.

      3.26 I will only use my public body’s resources, including employee assistance, facilities, stationery and IT equipment, for carrying out duties on behalf of the public body, in accordance with its relevant policies.

      3.27 I will not use, or in any way enable others to use, my public body’s resources:

      • imprudently (without thinking about the implications or consequences);
      • unlawfully;
      • for any political activities or matters relating to these; or
      • improperly.

      3.28 I will not use, or attempt to use, my position or influence as a board member to:

      • improperly confer on or secure for myself, or others, an advantage;
      • avoid a disadvantage for myself, or create a disadvantage for others or
      • improperly seek preferential treatment or access for myself or others.

      3.29 I will avoid any action which could lead members of the public to believe that preferential treatment or access is being sought.

      3.30 I will advise employees of any connection, as defined at Section 5, I may have to a matter, when seeking information or advice or responding to a request for information or advice from them.

      3.31 If I am appointed, or nominated by my public body, as a member of another body or organisation, I will abide by the rules of conduct and will act in the best interests of that body or organisation while acting as a member of it. I will also continue to observe the rules of this Code when carrying out the duties of that body or organisation.

      3.32 I accept that if I am a director or trustee (or equivalent) of a company or a charity, I will be responsible for identifying, and taking advice on, any conflicts of interest that may arise between the company or charity and my public body.

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