Code of Conduct - Frequently Asked Questions

Why do we have a new Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy?

The original Code of Conduct was an integrated document, which included code of conduct principles, along with conflict of interest guidelines. Now we have replaced the original Code of Conduct with a separate Conflict of Interest Policy and a separate, values based code of conduct - entitled Values, Ethics, and Conduct: A Code for Nova Scotia’s Public Servants.

What is a values based code of conduct?

A values based Code of Conduct reminds employees of the values we share. It offers advice on how these values can guide us in our workplace, as we make daily decisions that are rooted in these values.

What are the values on which the new Code of Conduct is based and where did they come from?

The new Code of Conduct is based on the five public service values: respect, integrity, diversity, accountability, and the public good.

While the Public Service Commission (PSC) was developing the Corporate Human Resource Plan 2005-2010, it found that many departments had their own values but nothing corporate in nature existed. The PSC met with a number of employees, senior managers, professional forums and leadership development participants to identify what values were most important. After consultation with these groups, the five overarching public service values were identified. These five values are the foundation for the new values based Code of Conduct. The Code of Conduct provides guidance on how employees can practically apply these values in their everyday work.

What is the difference between the Conflict of Interest Policy and the Code of Conduct?

The Conflict of Interest Policy provides direction for public servants to help them avoid situations where there is a real or perceived conflict between the employee’s work-related duties and his or her private interests. The Policy also provides rules to ensure that no employee personally benefits from his or her role as a public servant. The Conflict of Interest Policy is based in legislation, specifically, the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

The Code of Conduct provides guidance for workplace behaviour that is consistent with government’s shared public service values.

The Code of Conduct provides guidance for decisions we make as public servants. The Conflict of Interest Policy provides guidance when we’re confronted with decisions in which our private and work-related interests conflict and outlines the appropriate steps to be taken as a result.

Why have we taken this step at this time?

The original Code of Conduct Policy had been in place since 2000 and it was time for it to be reviewed. Since the introduction of our original Code of Conduct, the Government of Canada, many Commonwealth governments and leaders in industry have adopted values based codes of conduct. The Nova Scotia Government’s new Code of Conduct reflects this best practice. The new Code also contributes to enhancing the professionalism of the public service.

Who does the Code of Conduct and the Conflict of Interest Policy apply to?

Both the Code of Conduct and the Conflict of Interest Policy apply to all civil servants whose terms and conditions are set in accordance with the Civil Service Act and its regulations and other direct employees of the provincial government, including all bargaining unit employees and deputy heads.

Why are elected officials not covered by the Code of Conduct?

Members of the Legislative Assembly follow the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. Cabinet Ministers are also covered by the Ministerial Code of Conduct, established in 1999.

What policies and legislation are referenced in the Code of Conduct?

The Code of Conduct references the following policies and legislation:

  • Civil Service Act
  • Employee Recognition Policy
  • Employment Equity Policy
  • Respectful Workplace Policy
  • Disclosure of Wrongdoing Policy
  • Occupational Health and Safety Policy
  • Fair Hiring Policy
  • Healthy Workplace Policy
  • Conflict of Interest Policy

Where can I find the new Code of Conduct and Conflict of Interest Policy?

An electronic version of the Code of Conduct, in both English and French, can be found on the Public Service Commission website at: www.novascotia.ca/psc/about/overview/publicationsPolicies/codeofconduct.

Hard copies of the French version are also available by contacting PSC_CodeofConduct@gov.ns.ca.

The Conflict of Interest Policy can be found online in the Management Manual 500.