Conflicts of interest
It is quite possible that in our work life, there will be a conflict of interest between our own personal values, or those of our family and friends, our professional values, organisational values and the values or policy of the public service.
When there is conflict of the above interests, it is important to recognise them and to solve the conflict in an ethical manner. When personal values and interests are pursued in work time, or you are using information only accessible to you as a worker for the benefit of yourself, family or friends, a conflict of interest exists.
Figure 8: Potential sources of conflict of interest
A conflict of interest refers to a conflict between someone's private interest and their official duty.
Conflict of interest may include:
- accepting bribes, gifts or favours for services performed as part of official duties
- improper use of official information
- giving favours to friends or relatives
- outside employment or activities that interfere with your ability to perform your duties in a professional manner
- membership of an organisation or political activity that interferes with you professionally performing your duties
- pecuniary (money-related) or non-pecuniary conflict.
Real (or actual) conflict of interest
A real (or actual) conflict of interest exists where an employee's private interests have interfered with their duties or are likely to do so.
Phil is the person responsible for purchasing stationery items for his service. He decides to use an office supply business which is owned by his father.
Apparent conflict of interest
An apparent conflict of interest exists where it appears that an employee's duties may be affected by personal interest, even though this may not be the case.
Maria is on a selection panel and one of the applicants is her best friend. Even if she has no intention of being biased in favour of her friend, there may be a strong perception by other applicants that she would give her friend preferential treatment.