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Conflict of Interest and Commitment

Ref. No. Executive sponsor Policy steward Approval authority First approved Last reviewed Effective date Next review
42.11 Vice President, College Services and CFO Director, Organizational Development Executive Council Dec. 9, 2015 Oct. 20, 2021 Oct. 21, 2021 Oct. 2026
  1. Purpose
    1. Nova Scotia Community College’s mission of building Nova Scotia’s economy and quality of life through education and innovation is pursued in part through the values of integrity and public accountability. These values may be undermined or perceived to be undermined in situations involving Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment or Institutional Conflict.
    2. The purpose of this Policy is to: 
      1. Define and promote standards of conduct that support the values of integrity and public accountability;
      2. Assist members of the NSCC Community to recognize situations involving Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment or Institutional Conflicts so that they can, in good faith, take the initiative to disclose, manage and resolve such situations; and,
      3. Provide processes and mechanisms for the College to respond to, manage and resolve any such Conflicts.
  1. Scope
    1. This Policy applies to any behaviour that is connected to and/or may impact the work and services of the College, the work of College employees or the mission and/or reputation of the College. It applies to behaviour taking place in any physical or electronic sites.
    2. This Policy applies to all members of the NSCC Community.
  1. Definitions
Term Definition
College Community Includes, but is not limited to all current NSCC employees (regardless of status), students (full-time, part-time, online and apprenticeship, etc.), who are in a position to make or influence decisions in respect of College affairs, activities or business, including, but not limited to, decisions affecting other students, any individual or stakeholder in a contractual relationship with NSCC; and College committees, councils, or associations.
Conflict For the purposes of this Policy, Conflict may refer to any or all of Conflict of Interest, Conflict of Commitment and/or Institutional Conflict as defined herein.
Conflict of Commitment Exists where a College employee undertakes or engages in any activity or commitment, whether paid or unpaid, apart from the employee’s normal responsibilities to the College, which may:
(1) interfere with the employee's ability to effectively carry out his/her College-related duties and responsibilities,
(2) compete or conflict with the mission, goals and objectives of the College; or
(3) adversely affect the reputation of the College.
Not all outside activities or business activities of College employees amount to Conflicts of Commitment. Examples of Employee Conflict of Commitment are set out in Appendix A.
Conflict of Interest Exists when a member of the College Community has or may be perceived as having the opportunity to advance or protect a Personal Interest of the member or of a person with whom the member has a family, personal, business or similar relationship. A Conflict of Interest may arise in circumstances where Personal Interests may directly or indirectly affect the member’s professional judgment in the exercise of College duties and responsibilities. Examples of Employee Conflict of Interest are set out in Appendix A.
Institutional Conflict A situation in which the College or an institution has an existing relationship with a party with which the College or the institution proposes to enter into an activity, contract, or commitment, such that an impartial observer might reasonably question whether the existing relationship might prejudice decisions of the College or institution with respect to the activity.
Personal Interest Exists where one has an interest, including, but not limited to, a financial, family, or professional interest, in a decision, activity or business affair of the College.
  1. Policy
    1. Expectations
      All members of the NSCC community are expected to:
      1. Conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards and in a manner which will bear the closest scrutiny;
      2. Act honestly and in good faith in respect of any reports or disclosures made under this Policy;
      3. Identify situations involving Conflicts of Interest, Conflicts of Commitment or Institutional Conflict;
      4. Avoid doing anything to exploit such Conflicts to serve a Personal Interest;
      5. Take steps to prevent the exploitation of such Conflicts by others;
      6. Take steps to avoid the perception of Conflict;
      7. Disclose Conflict situations to an appropriate person in accordance with the Procedures as soon as possible after becoming aware of them;
      8. Seek guidance before embarking on activities involving Conflict situations;
      9. Co-operate in the management of such Conflicts as required by the College.
    2. Responding to Conflicts
      1. The College will respond to Conflicts in as fair, open and consistent manner as is possible and will seek to avoid unfair disadvantage wherever possible.
      2. Each Conflict will be assessed individually so that the College and its external constituencies can be confident that decisions, actions and behaviours are not inappropriately influenced by personal interests or institutional interests.
    3. Recognizing and Reporting Conflicts
      1. A member of the NSCC Community may be presumed to have become aware of a Conflict at such a time as a reasonable person would have been aware of it.
      2. Failure to comply with the Policy will be assessed by the College and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.
      3. Good faith disclosures under this Policy will be handled in accordance with the Safe Disclosure Policy. An individual acting in good faith will not be disadvantaged or lose their employment status as a result of reporting their concerns, even when those concerns cannot be substantiate.
    4. Willful Misuse/ Abuse
      The willful misuse or abuse of the Policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion.
    5. Roles and Responsibilities
      1. The President and Executive team are responsible for fostering a culture of integrity and effective stewardship of the public trust.
      2. College Leaders (AVPs, Principals, Deans, Academic Chairs, Directors and Managers) are responsible for:
        1. Fostering a culture of integrity and effective stewardship of the public trust;
        2. Providing guidance regarding activities which might be questionable or perceived as questionable;
        3. Addressing and providing assistance in the College review and response to declarations;
        4. The oversight and application of the Policy including resolution and the coordination of College response in respect of any Declarations of Conflict which are made to them.
      3. The Director of Organizational Development has responsibility for the oversight and application of the Employee Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy including resolution and the coordination of College response in respect of Conflicts involving College employees.
      4. The AVP Student Affairs has responsibility for the oversight and application of the Employee Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Commitment Policy including resolution and the coordination of College response in respect of Conflicts involving College students.
      5. NSCC Employees are responsible for understanding and complying with the Employee Conflict of Interest and Commitment Policy. Employees have an obligation to promptly disclose, as soon as they could reasonably be aware, that a Conflict may exist using the Declaration of Potential Conflict of Interest and/or Commitment form and to update the declaration should circumstances change.
  1. Policy Supports
Declaration of Potential Conflict of Interest and Commitment Form
42.12 Employee Conflict of Interest and Commitment Procedures
42.13 Employee Conflict of Interest and/or Commitment Guidelines

Related Policies

44.15 Employment of Relatives
42.31 Safe Disclosure
  1. Appendix A- Examples of Policy Breaches

It is not possible to list each and every behaviour which could violate this policy. Employees are expected to exercise sound judgement, consider the principles that shape the policy, and when in doubt seek guidance, to avoid breaches of the policy.

The following, while not a comprehensive list, provides examples and explanations of Employee Conflict of Interest and Commitment situations. It is important to remember that, even if you do not actually take advantage of these situations in favour of yourself or someone close to you, there is still a potential that others will suspect that you may do so. Even in the case of a gift given to you, there may be a perception that the gift was given in an effort to gain favour, which also places you in conflict. This perception of Conflict can be reduced or eliminated by full disclosure and, where necessary, other measures as suggested or required by the College. Not only do the procedures under this Policy serve the College’s mission and values, they also serve to protect your reputation. 

  1. Potential to Favour Outside Interests
    Conflicts like this exist if you are involved in any College discussion, vote or decision from which you or a person close to you (family, friend, business colleague) could derive a financial benefit. Situations out of which such Conflicts of Interest could arise, for example, by:
     
    1. Being involved in decision-making about contracts, programs, services, leases, equipment rental, material supply, etc., even if your involvement is only at the discussion stage.
    2. Actually entering into a contract with a third party on behalf of the College.
    3. Managing (supervising or controlling) and/or directing (guiding or conducting) a College program to serve the needs of yourself or a person close to you, rather than or in preference to the needs of the College.
    4. Encouraging or requiring students to purchase services, supplies, materials, etc. resulting in a potential financial advantage to yourself or someone close to you.
    5. Accepting significant gifts or special favours for personal gain from private organizations or individuals with whom the College does business, or from students or colleagues, without complete disclosure to and approval from your supervisor.
  2. Inappropriate Use of College Personnel, Resources and Assets
    Conflicts of Interest may also arise if you are in a position to use College resources for non- College activities. Examples include:
    1. Using College students or staff on College time to carry out work for an enterprise in which either the individual or a person with a relationship to that individual has a financial or other interest.
    2. Unauthorized and non-reimbursed use of College resources or facilities to benefit a private concern in which either the individual or a person with a relationship to that individual has a financial or other interest. This includes College assets which are deemed surplus and must be disposed of according to College policy.
  3. Inappropriate Use of Information
    Another area of Conflict of Interest involves taking advantage of information acquired in the performance of College activities and duties.  Examples include:
    1. Using for personal gain or other unauthorized purposes, privileged information acquired as a result of the individual's College activities; such information might include knowledge of forthcoming developments requiring contractor selection, etc.
    2. Unreasonably delaying publication of information or effecting premature release of information to secure personal gain or to secure gain for a person with whom an individual has a relationship.
  4. Employment and Evaluative Relationships
    Exploiting College relationships and one’s own role in the performance of College duties to benefit yourself or a person close to you also places you in a Conflict situation. Examples include:
    1. Participating in the selection, supervision, counselling, evaluation or discipline of a student with whom the individual has a personal relationship including consensual romantic and/or sexual relationship.
    2. Participating in the personnel decisions (selection, supervision, evaluation, approval/denial of increments/performance pay, etc.) involving a person with whom the individual has either a familial or a personal relationship (including consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships).
    3. Having direct or indirect authority over the employment of a person with whom the individual has either a familial or a personal relationship (including consensual romantic and/or sexual relationships). Such authority or influence may arise from participation in decisions, recommendations or judgments related to: the approval/denial of increments/performance pay, the assignment and approval of overtime, the negotiation of salary level, the conduct of performance appraisals, the assignment or direction of work assignments, the approval of leaves of absence or the disciplinary process.
  5. Examples of Employee Conflict of Commitment
    External employment, or self-employment, is permitted if there is no Conflict of Commitment. However, employees in full time positions are compensated for full-time employment. A Conflict of Commitment would exist when a College employee has an outside interest which materially encroaches on time or attention which should be devoted to the affairs of the College or so affects his/her energies as to prevent the application of full abilities to the performance of duties.

    Employee Conflicts of Commitment do not include standard, external, professional and academic activities such as memberships in professional organizations, journal editing, attendance or preparation for conferences or other professional activities.

    Some examples of Conflict of Commitment situations include:

    a. College employee arranges to work for someone else and such an arrangement conflicts with the time commitment to the College.
    b. During the course of employment, a College employee is engaged in a business that competes with that of the College.
    c. A College employee solicits College clients to advance his or her Personal Interests.
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