The importance of a code of conduct and applying it to all company workers including contractors, agents and suppliers

Sean Gladney
2021-05-12

As businesses ready themselves for yet another wave of COVID-effects on work, and workers continue to remain entrenched behind their home office computer screens, we may see a trend for companies to reduce their payroll, outsource to consultants and rely on contractors and agents to complete project work.  Even as companies transition to more short-term project work and rely more on mobile workforces, reviewing and updating the code of conduct is an important exercise.

A written Code of Conduct should be part of every company’s compliance program which program should include an effective internal reporting system to encourage employees to report misconduct.  A written Code of Conduct assists the company in several ways:

  • It is a written record of the company’s policy and/or procedure, evidencing the importance to the company
  • Evidence that the company is acting with due care
  • Is a written record of expected standards and set out expectations, thereby reducing confusion or misunderstandings
  • The company can demonstrate a diligence defence against actions that violate the Code of Conduct

A robust Code of Conduct should also include the procedure for approval/reporting as well, it should set out potential consequences for violation.  Companies must take care that the manner of drafting is flexible enough to adapt to various circumstances and not hinder the company in the future or be used against the company. 

A company should also look forward, anticipate, and prepare itself in event of a breach of the Code of Conduct.  It may consider developing guidelines for responding to breaches and violations including developing proposed responses. 

Companies often overlook communicating company policies to contractors and agents when in fact, as service providers to companies, they are also subject to workplace policies.  Companies should ensure, where appropriate, that they incorporate aspects of certain policies (such as policies relating to anti-corruption or bribery and workplace harassment) into their agreements with third parties.  

A company’s activities are all subject to compliance risk and a company should ensure that company leaders are alert to the various circumstances where the company may face potential risk when dealing with third parties.   Policies should not be boilerplate but rather should take into consideration the company’s unique operations, culture and values. 

This should be supplemented with procedures to conduct due diligence and monitoring of the third-party relationships in certain situations.

As businesses ready themselves for yet another wave of COVID-effects on work, and workers continue to remain entrenched behind their home office computer screens, we may see a trend for companies to reduce their payroll, outsource to consultants and rely on contractors and agents to complete project work.  Even as companies transition to more short-term project work and rely more on mobile workforces, reviewing and updating the code of conduct is an important exercise.

 

By Sean Gladney, Vice-President, The Investigators Group Inc. 

Sean Gladney is a licensed private investigator. He conducts workplace investigations involving harassment, bullying, discrimination and other forms of misconduct. Sean conducts investigations both provincial laws as well as under the Canada Labour Code in federally - regulated workplaces. 

For more information regarding workplace harassment investigations, you can contact Sean via email at sean@investigators-group.com

 

The Investigators Group Inc. (IGI) was established in 1995 as a full service private investigation and security firm serving individuals across North America. We serve the legal, insurance and corporate communities as well as individuals through our civil and executive services. IGI provides professional surveillance services, fraud investigators, workplace investigations, undercover operations, loss prevention and security services. 

Contact us today so we can provide the appropriate investigative solution for all your needs.

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