Starting a Conflict of Interest Program

Last week I wrote about Conflicts of Interest in the Workplace where I talked about the need for employers to establish a workplace conflict of interest program. I though I'd take some time to outline how to get an effective conflict of interest program started. It's important to have a program in place that allows employees to report and seek guidance and resolution to potential conflicts they may have.

When creating a conflict resolution program it is important to remember every company needs a strong policy and procedure addressing what is expected of employees. These policies need to be updated and issued on a regular basis and contain a signature page where the employee acknowledges having read and comprehends the policy.

When creating a potential conflict of interest program I advise companies to have formal plan for, not only, existing employees but also of potential new-hires. Ideally, in the case of a new-hire, the form is filled out and reviewed as part of the new-hire background hiring process. It's better to deal with these issues before the employee is brought on board.

For reasons of confidentiality and continuity the conflict reporting program should directly flow upwards to the decision makers who are directly tasked with conflict resolution. A conflict declaration form should at least contain:

  • An area for the employee to explain the potential conflict
  • Whether or not the employee has disclosed a previous conflict of interest
  • The employee's signature
  • Business location or unit number and telephone contact numbers

The decision maker then reviews the form and notes whether or not there is a conflict of interest and the necessary controls or restrictions (if any) that have been put into place to resolve the conflict.

The conflict form is sent to the business unit manager who then reviews the decision and makes sure the policy/decision is carried out. A copy of the conflict and decision is signed by the employee and reviewer and placed in the employee's HR file.

I'm aware of companies who, on a yearly basis, require their employee to read, update and sign a form disclosing they are not aware of any potential conflicts of interest - these forms also become part of the HR file. They also require management to conduct annual ethics and conflict of interest training.

If anyone is interested, contact me and I can supply you with sample formats to get you started in creating your company's conflict of interest program.

 

Curtis Baillie - Security Consulting Strategies, LLC

 

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