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Six areas your company's code of conduct must contain

by , 25 February 2013
Last Wednesday, former Australian captain, Ricky Ponting was fined Aus$250 by Cricket Australia for breaching the code of conduct during a domestic one-day match, reports Adelaide Now. The reason? The board deemed Ponting's behaviour when he threw his bat in the air after he was run out as unacceptable. What about your company? Does it have a code of conduct you can refer to when reprimanding employees for unacceptable behaviour in the workplace? And does it contain these six vital areas?

Having a company code of conduct is a great way to ensure you and your employees are doing the right thing when 'no one is looking'.
But it's more than that. In fact, your code of conduct is the most important document your company has – after all, it's the foundation on which all your other policies and procedures will be based, explains employment expert Lizle Louw in The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
But does your company's code of conduct contain everything it needs to? Here's how to check…
The six vital areas your company's code of conduct must contain
'First, think about the nature of your business, and then work out what you need to cover to ensure ethical standards and behaviour throughout your business and its dealings with the outside world,' advises Louw.
To do that, you need to ensure it looks at the following areas as outlined in The Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service:
#1: Working environment
Your company's working environment should as far as possible be safe and free from risk. To ensure this is the case, your code of conduct should cover:
  • Health and safety
  • Security
  • Sustainability and care of the environment
#2. Employee conduct
In this section, your code of conduct must outline your company's stance on:
  • Fair treatment
  • Equal opportunity
  • Respect
  • Harassment
  • Privacy and confidentiality regarding information about employees
#3. Third party service providers
Your code of conduct must stipulate the acceptable behaviour for:
  • Giving and receiving gifts and entertainment
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Confidentiality and competitors
  • Working with suppliers and contractors
#4. Government departments, agencies and the public
Not all companies deal with government departments, agencies and the public, but if yours does, your code of conduct needs to reflect it. It should cover:
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Media communications
#5. Business assets
It's your responsibility to ensure your business assets are protected and used as efficiently as possible. Your code can help you achieve this by covering:
  • Accuracy of records, reporting and accounting
  • Company property
  • Intellectual property and copyright
  • Information systems and security
#6. Laws
'You must make sure your business complies with all applicable laws,' says Louw. To do this, 'first identify which laws apply in the context of your business and then set rules in your code of conduct to ensure everyone in your business plays their part in complying'.
Take any failure to follow your company's code of conduct and its principles very seriously. Employees should know that a breach of this code may result in disciplinary action that could include dismissal.

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