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Conflict of Interest

Section
Board
Approval Date
18 March 2021
Approved By
Board
Next Review
1 March 2023
Responsibility
Chief Executive
Baldrige Criteria
Leadership
Purpose

Public trust and confidence in Otago Polytechnic Limited (Ltd) depend upon our ability to be impartial in all decision making. This means everyone working at Otago Polytechnic Ltd needs to use a high standard of judgement when declaring and managing conflicts of interest.

This policy sets out Otago Polytechnic Ltd’s requirements for identifying and managing conflicts of interest.

Scope

This policy applies to all Otago Polytechnic Ltd Board members, employees (permanent, fixed term, casual and temporary), secondees and to all contractors and consultants.  This policy outlines the process to be followed when any person covered by this policy has a conflict of interest.

Principles and Expectations

What is a Conflict of Interest?

A conflict of interest is any situation where your independence, objectivity or impartiality could potentially be doubted or challenged. A conflict of interest can happen when your official duties and your personal interests or responsibilities overlap. These may include financial involvements and/or relate to family, friends, acquaintances or other personal commitments or responsibilities. Conflicts of interest can be pecuniary or non-pecuniary or both.

A conflict can be:

Actual

A conflict exists now between your official duties and your personal interests or responsibilities.

Potential

A conflict could happen or is about to happen.

Perceived

A situation where other people might reasonably think a conflict exists.

It is important to understand that the existence of a conflict of interest does not necessarily imply wrongdoing on the part of any person. However, any interest which either does, or could, give rise to a conflict of interest must be disclosed to Otago Polytechnic Ltd.

All Otago Polytechnic Staff Obligations

To protect the reputation of Otago Polytechnic Ltd, Te Pūkenga and the wider education sector, and to protect Otago Polytechnic Ltd’s relationships with our stakeholders, Government Ministers, students and the public, you must:

  • Carry out your work with honesty, integrity, impartiality, fairness, and trustworthiness, and ensure personal interests and responsibilities do not affect your ability to do this. Avoid situations in which your personal interests’ conflict, or could appear to conflict, with the interests of Otago Polytechnic Ltd.
  • Ensure that your actions do not give anyone reason to question the fairness and transparency of our decision making.
  • Tell your Formal Leader immediately if your role involves monitoring performance of an Otago Polytechnic Ltd supplier, contractor, or consultant where you may have a conflict of interest (actual, potential or perceived).
  • Not employ a family member or other related party (any person who has a relevant personal relationship with you) as your direct report or in any other situation which could cause a conflict of interest.
  • In accordance with the requirements set out below, seek approval from Otago Polytechnic Ltd for any other employment, self-employment, contracts, or assignments (paid or unpaid) outside of your official duties at Otago Polytechnic Ltd that could give rise to a conflict of interest and advise Otago Polytechnic Ltd of any potential impacts on Otago Polytechnic Ltd, prior to entering such an arrangement.
  • Disclose any conflicts of interest or potential conflict of interest by completing the interests register (appendix one) and sending to People and Culture or the Chief Executive Office if you are tier three or above. 

Secondary Engagements/Self-employment

You must not take up any other employment, contract, assignment, or self-employed activity (paid or unpaid) that could give rise to a conflict of interest, unless Otago Polytechnic Ltd agrees to this in writing. Where there is any potential for a conflict of interest, you should raise this with your formal leader for Otago Polytechnic Ltd to determine whether a conflict exists. Only formal leaders with the appropriate delegation may determine whether a conflict of interest exists. 

Otago Polytechnic Ltd may decline to approve the other employment, contract assignment or self-employed activity where it considers there is a conflict of interest. This may include a situation where the employment, contract, assignment, or self-employed activity is or could become detrimental to Otago Polytechnic Ltd, Otago Polytechnic Ltd learners, you, your performance, or another employee, contractor, or consultant of Otago Polytechnic Ltd.

Where approval is given:

  • The impact on you (and your ability to perform work for Otago Polytechnic Ltd) and those with whom you come into contact, will be monitored by Otago Polytechnic Ltd.
  • The arrangement will be reviewed at least annually, when circumstances change, or at Otago Polytechnic Ltd’s sole discretion. You must actively participate and engage in this review to enable Otago Polytechnic Ltd to assess what impact, if any, the arrangement is having on Otago Polytechnic Ltd, Otago Polytechnic Ltd learners, you, or those you come into contact with in the course of performing your duties.
  • You must seek further approval prior to any change to the approved arrangement or a new arrangement commencing.

Otago Polytechnic Limited Leaders Obligations

To disclose a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest, the Chief Executive and tier two and three leaders engaged by Otago Polytechnic Limited must enter their interests on a register of interests (the “Interests Register). The interests register is maintained by the Chief Executive’s Office (Jeanette Corson).  Leaders should e-mail Jeanette as soon as they become aware of a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest and include all information as set out in appendix 1 to this Conflict of Interest Policy.  The Interests Register will be circulated annually to all leaders.

The Chief Executive and tier two and three leaders engaged by Otago Polytechnic Ltd, are asked to declare potential interests:

  • When they start in a leadership role.
  • Each year, as part of the annual process, even if they do not have a conflict of interest.
  • Whenever their personal or work situation changes in a way that would or could create a conflict of interest.

Board Members’ Obligations

Board members must disclose interests on commencement of their term and advise the Board Secretary of any new interests as they arise. 

Board members who have an interest in a matter being considered or about to be considered by the Board, must disclose the nature of the interest at a Board meeting, as soon as possible after the relevant facts have come to the Board member’s knowledge.

A disclosure by a Board member must be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

The Board member must not be present during any deliberation, nor take part in any decision, of the Board with respect to the matter unless the Board otherwise agrees.

Conflicts of interest will be a standing agenda item at all Board meetings.

Management of conflicts of interest

You must comply with any strategies and monitoring procedures for managing a conflict of interest determined by Otago Polytechnic Limited.

These may include, without limitation:

  • in the case of Board members, not being present during any deliberation, nor taking part in any decision, of the Board with respect to the matter unless the Board otherwise agrees.
  • regularly declaring any contact and matters discussed with a particular person or entity.
  • signing additional confidentiality undertakings.
  • not being involved in a procurement or other project in relation to which a person has a conflict of interest.
  • not being involved in the recruitment process if a person applying is a close friend or relative.
  • not managing a contract in relation to which a person has a conflict of interest.
  • not exercising delegations in respect of the matter.

Breaches of this policy

Failure to disclose a conflict of interest or breaches of this policy on the part of an employee or secondee may result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal without notice. For contractors, the outcome could result in termination of the contract and/or legal action being taken by the Otago Polytechnic Ltd.

Process for raising concerns

If you have reason to believe that a conflict of interest has not been appropriately declared or that the actions taken do not appropriately or sufficiently mitigate the conflict, you should report these concerns to your formal leader. If the concerns are in relation to your formal leader you should raise this with the Te Kaihāpai.

Signature

Approved by:
Adam La Hood
Chair: Otago Polytechnic Limited Board
18/03/2021