A code of conduct is a set of rules that outline the social standards and rules and responsibilities of, or proper practices for, an individual, party or organization. It is defined that "Code of Conduct" is "principles, values, standards, or rules of behaviour that guide the decisions, procedures and systems of an organization in a way that
It is established in many reports that a Code of Conduct documents the rules and policies that govern the business and ethical conduct of directors, committee members and staff (i.e. officers and employees). The scope of a Code of Conduct includes the individual legal duties of each director, committee member and staff member, as well as identifying unlawful or prohibited conduct.
A Code of Conduct must address all important ethical issues and legal duties with respect to the behaviour and conduct of individual directors, volunteers and staff members of the credit union. It should deal with the following issues:
The general duty of care required of directors, officers and committee members of credit unions entails that "Every director, officer, and member of a committee established under this Act shall exercise the powers and discharge the duties of his or her office honestly, in good faith and in the best interests of the credit union." The standard to which this duty is to be held, is set out in section 144(2) of the Act and states that "The director, officer or committee member shall exercise the degree of care, diligence and skill that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in comparable circumstances."
Person holding senior position in organization must have various responsibilities to mitigate against the risk of legal liability. These are mentioned below:
Directors, committee members, officers and employees have a duty to comply with the Act and Regulation. Non-compliance with the Act can carry serious consequences for directors and officers, especially where it signifies an offence under the Act. Any director, officer or agent of a credit union who commits an offence under the Act, authorized, or acquiesced to the offence, is liable to severe penalties.
The credit union, and its directors, committee members and officers, have responsibilities and duties under other Acts, and under the common law. Confidentiality: Rules of confidentiality must be extend to every director, committee member and officer of a credit union.
It has been established that prior to assuming duties which include the right of access to member records, directors, committee members and staff should be required to sign a confidentiality agreement. This agreement is a written pledge of an individual to hold private matters in strict confidence. After assuming duty, each credit union should establish administrative and physical controls to ensure the protection of records from unauthorized access or disclosure, and from physical damage or destruction. The controls instituted should be related to the degree of sensitivity of the records but at a minimum would ensure that:
The general manager of each credit union should be responsible for ensuring that employees subject to his/her supervision are advised of the serious-ness of maintaining confidentiality. Employees should be made aware of their responsibilities to protect the security of personal information, to ensure its accuracy, relevance, and completeness, and to avoid unauthorized disclosure either orally or in writing.
It is advisable that employees or union managers must not practice violations of confidentiality such as:
Each and every director, committee member, officer or employee has an obligation of loyalty to the credit union and must ignore their personal interests when they conflict with or threaten to conflict with the best interests of the credit union. The Code of Conduct must acknowledge these rules, and should also incorporate policies to safeguard against violation of them.
Forms of unethical or inappropriate conduct which should be prohibited either in policy or directly in the Code of Conduct include:
Numerous international and national agencies have developed Codes of Conduct or Codes of Ethics for their workers. This ethical standard setting is to a large extent based on Weberian principles. It can be an important guide to making decisions on complicated ethical issues, and they can provide the basis for an environment where citizens are aware of the basic standards of behaviour to be expected from public sector employees. International codes of conduct or codes of ethics can support national public sector statutes and criminal laws, and can add to the national legal framework.
The code also signify the duty always to conduct himself or herself in a way that the public's confidence and trust in the integrity, impartiality and effectiveness of the public service are preserved and enhanced; that the public official is accountable to his or her immediate hierarchical superior unless otherwise prescribed by law, and that the public official has a duty to treat appropriately, with all necessary confidentiality, all information and documents acquired by him or her in the course of, or as a result of, his or her employment.
It is apparent that code is also a device to encourage debates of ethics and to improve how members deal with the ethical dilemmas, prejudices and grey areas that are encountered in everyday work. A code is intended to complement relevant standards, policies and rules, not to substitute for them. Codes of conduct offer an irreplaceable opportunity for responsible organizations to create a positive public identity for themselves which can lead to a more supportive political and regulatory environment and an increased level of public confidence and trust among important constituencies and stakeholders.