The public expects a high standard of conduct from all local government employees in Scotland. There is a National Code of Conduct for Councillors and it is right that there should be a National Code of Conduct for Employees. This National Code sets out the minimum standards of conduct that are expected of you as a council employee. Each council should, after discussion with trades unions, develop and adopt a local code in line with this National Code. This will allow each council to take into account specific local circumstances, for example to cover specific groups of employees. Each local code must achieve at least the same effect as the National Code and a council can simply adopt this National Code as its local code. All councils should ensure that new employees know about their local code, and that all employees are helped to understand the local code.
The Code does not affect your rights and your responsibilities under the law; its purpose is to provide clear and helpful advice to you. Because of the nature of their work, some parts of the Code may apply more to some of your colleagues than to you, but all employees must comply with the Code. A breach of the Code may give rise to disciplinary action. As far as possible, you should also comply with the Code where you are appointed as a representative of the council on any organisation, Trust or company.
Equally importantly, the Code also provides you with guidance about your rights and duties at work.
The Code incorporates "The Seven Principles of Public Life" identified by the Nolan Committee on Standards in Public Life. These are listed below, altered slightly to place them in a local government context.
You should not take decisions which will result in any financial or other benefit to yourself, your family, or your friends. Decisions should be based solely on the Comhairle’s best interests.
You should not place yourself under any financial or other obligation to an individual or an organisation which might influence you in your work with the Comhairle.
Any decisions which you make in the course of your work with the Comhairle, including making appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards or benefits, must be based solely on merit.
You are accountable to the Comhairle as your employer. The Comhairle, in turn, is accountable to the public.
You should be as open as possible in all the decisions and actions that you take. You should give reasons for your decisions and should not restrict information unless this is clearly required by Comhairle policy or by the law.
You have a duty to declare any private interests which might affect your work with the Comhairle.
If you are a manager, you should promote and support these principles by your leadership and example.
The Local Government Ombudsman will use the National Code as a benchmark of good practice where a complaint of maladministration has been made.