Guide to Workplace Conduct (2023)

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  • Human Resources

Here are some "Dos and Don'ts" for Executive Department employees.

This section covers some policies that are otherwise not covered on the Absence & Leave page.

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Table of Contents

Code of Conduct and Mutual Respect

Codes of Conduct

Managers' behavior is governed by the Manager Code of Conduct.

The code of conduct provides guidance on issues including:

  • violations of law including being arrested or convicted of a crime at work or in private life
  • conflict of interest - accepting gifts or compensation for something that is part of their normal job duties.
  • giving an appearance of undue influence
  • disclosing confidential information learned in state position
  • After leaving employment working for vendors with state business
  • Use of state seal and letterhead
  • having drugs or alcohol in the workplace
  • usetheir status as a stateemployee to obtain personal advantages or to influence any action not associated with their official duties.

The behavior of bargaining unit employees are covered by individual codes of contact that vary by bargaining unit. Please see applicable union contract.

Mutual Respect

Some collective bargaining agreements contain language on "mutual respect" that address unacceptable behavior in the workplace. Behaviors that contribute to a hostile, humiliating, or intimidating work environment, including abusive language or behavior, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Collective Bargaining Agreements (see "Mutual Respect" clause, if any)

Professionalism and Dress Code

State employees are expected to act professionally towards all internal and external customers and provide good customer service.

Some agencies have implemented dress codes. If you are uncertain if your agency has a dress code, please contact your agency's Human Resources office.

When in doubt, don't do it.


Conflict of Interest

Gifts valued $50 or more

  • State employees may not accept anything of value from someone that is valued at over $50 (or something the average citizen would need to pay more than $50 to receive)


  • State employees may not hire, supervise, or make any employment decisions affecting a family member. Applicants for state employment must disclose the names and relationships of family members employed by the state under the Sunshine Law.

Appearance of a conflict

  • State employees cannot participate in any state matters which might financially benefit themselves or a family member. The State Ethics Commission offers advice to employees who are in a situation that could be construed as having an unfair advantage because of their state employment.

For more information, please see the website of theState Ethics Commission

Multiple Jobs and working after Retirement

Holding more than one state job

Generally state employees may not hold more than one job at any time, with some special exceptions made. Teaching on a part-time at a state college or university outside the regular work hoursin addition to working anotherstate job is allowedunder certain circumstances.

After hours work or moonlighting

There can be conflicts of interest in paid and unpaid work a state employeeperform outside their state job. When in doubt on whether any activities are appropriate, contact the State Ethics Commission for guidance.

Working after Retirement

There are work restrictions for state employees who retire and receive a pension and thenreturn to work for the state in the same or different agency from which they retired. There is a maximum number of hours they can work during a calendar year (960 hours - also know as 120 day appointments) and maximum earnings based on their last salary when employed full-time. There are penalties if the employee exceeds the allowed number of hours or ceiling on compensation. Post-retirees and agencies that may employ them should thoroughly read the Post-Employment Retirement Guidelinesto ensure a successful assignment.

Political Activities

State employees can and do run for office on many different levels, but they have fundraising restrictions

Employees may not use work time or resources to support or runfor political office orsupporting fundraisers. Employees may not use any social media tools to invite people to fundraising events or to raise any funds.

State employees are prohibited during work and non-work hours from soliciting or receiving any campaign donations.

See the Memo Regarding Restrictions on Political Activity from the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance is a great resource if you have any questions.

Additional Resources for Ethics

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs


State law prohibits smoking in public workplaces. Smoking includes the lighting of a cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco product or possessing a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco or non-tobacco product designed to be combusted and inhaled.

Smoking shall be prohibited in workplaces, work spaces, common work areas, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts or concessions.

State Buildings also have rules against smoking while on state property.

Law against smoking on state property

Drugs and Alcohol

Employees are not allowed to be intoxicated, possess or use legal or illegal drugs or alcohol at the workplace.

Drug-Free Workplace Act

State agencies receiving at least $100k in federal funding must adhere to the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

This includes publishing a statement notifying employees that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in a workplace and specifying the actions that will be taken against employees for violation of such prohibition.

Comptroller's annual memo on the Drug-Free Workplace Act (FY 2018)

Comptroller of the Commonwealth

IT Acceptable Use Policy

ANF Policy

Social Media Policy


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment of employees occurring in the workplace or in other settings related to their employment is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the Commonwealth.

Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual Harassment Investigation and Complaint Procedures

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Sexual Harassment Officers List

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment means sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

(a) Submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions; or,

(b) Such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

Other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a work place environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating to male or female workers may also constitute sexual harassment.

Policy of Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

See Leave Benefits for Violence Survivors

Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking in the Workplace

Additional Resources for Harassment

Open file, MCAD Guidelines on Sexual Harassment

Weapons in the Workplace


To ensure safety for all, weapons are not allowed in the workplace. An exception is made for public safety personnel who require specialized equipment to perform their job duties.

Workplace Violence

The state has a zero tolerance for employee behavior involving physical assault and/or battery including the following activities:

  • Making threats and/or doing intimidating actionswhich cause an employee to be in fear for the physical safety for themselves or another.
  • Exhibiting disruptive or aggressive behavior that places a reasonable person in fear of physical harm and/or that causes a disruption of workplace productivity; and/or
  • Employee actions which result in property damage


Workplace Violence Policy

Executive Order 442 Policy of Zero Tolerance for Workplace Violence

Additional Resources for Weapons in the Workplace

Time and Attendance Policy

Check with your agency to get your specific policy

There is an Executive Department Time and Attendance Policy that covers all Executive department employees.

Please note each state agency has issued their own time and attendance policy modeled after the Executive Department version but with information custom to their agency.

The policy covers topics including:

  • Importance of all employees recording time accurately
  • Requirements for Self-Service Time and Attendance (SSTA)
  • Agency Record keeping requirements

Key Actions for Time and Attendance Policy

Time and Attendance Policy (Executive Departments)

Human Trafficking and Related Activities

Executive Order 568 establishes a zero tolerance policy for Human Trafficking and Related Activities. The Executive Order applies to all state agencies subject to the Governor’s control. The Human Resources Division (HRD) has been charged with issuing a policy that will apply to all full-time or part-time employees employed by agencies subject to the Executive Order.

Zero Tolerance Policy for Human Trafficking and Related Activities

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What are 5 codes of conduct? ›

An employer's employee handbook may include several sorts of codes of conduct, including these five principles:
  • integrity.
  • objectivity.
  • competence.
  • confidentiality.
  • professionalism.
Nov 11, 2022

What are workplace standards of conduct? ›

What is an employee code of conduct? An employee code of conduct (also called a staff code of conduct) is a set of rules about how employees can and can't behave during work hours. It shares your expectations for how team members will conduct themselves when they're on the clock.

What does a code of conduct guide? ›

What is a code of conduct? A code of conduct includes policies and rules for employees and employers to follow in the workplace. Often, a company uses its core values, including its mission, to guide the creation of these codes. These guidelines outline how people can appropriately interact with one another at work.

What is the 7 code of ethics? ›

Section 7. Every teacher shall maintain harmonious and pleasant personal and official relations with other professionals, with government officials, and with the people, individually or collectively.

What are the 10 code of ethics? ›

Respect, integrity, compassion, collaboration, stewardship, accountability, and quality shall be incorporated into SIH's day-to-day operations.

What is 6 code of conduct? ›

The SIX Code of Conduct sets the values and principles that we as employees follow in our interactions with each other and with our stakeholders such as customers and other business partners, our shareholders and the regulatory authorities.

How do you respect coworkers? ›

Top 10 ways to show respect in the workplace
  1. Say something. ...
  2. Smile. ...
  3. Say “thank you.” It may seem like common sense, but many people forget to say thank you or don't say it with sincerity. ...
  4. Be considerate and discreet. ...
  5. Apologize. ...
  6. Participate constructively. ...
  7. Respond in a timely manner. ...
  8. Go the extra mile.
Feb 17, 2017

What kind of behaviors are acceptable at the workplace? ›

Acceptable behaviour
  • Work co-operatively with others in order to achieve objectives.
  • Manage performance in an appropriate and fair manner.
  • Give and receive constructive feedback as part of normal day-to-day work. ...
  • Consider other people's perspectives in order to help reach agreement.
  • Establish good working relationships.

What are the 4 values of code of conduct? ›

The Code is framed around four core values – respect, trust, partnership and integrity – and eight primary principles.

What are the 4 principles in the code of conduct? ›

Beneficence, nonmaleficence, autonomy, and justice constitute the 4 principles of ethics.

What is a code of conduct template? ›

A code of conduct policy outlines the appropriate behaviour employees are expected to follow in the workplace towards their colleagues, supervisors and overall organisation.

What are the examples of code of conduct violations? ›

These may include plagiarism, cheating, forgery, sabotage, falsification and bribery. Some schools will also consider the mere attempt to commit such acts as academic dishonesty.

What are the violations of the code of conduct? ›

A code-of-conduct violation can occur when an employee doesn't follow company policies, or when a member of a profession or an industry doesn't adhere to written ethical guidelines.

What is the professional code of conduct? ›

A professional code of conduct is a document that explains to employees how they are expected to act on behalf of their company. A code of conduct can include elements like the values of the business, disciplinary steps, and responsibilities.

What are the 12 codes of ethics? ›

Generally, there are about 12 ethical principles: honesty, fairness, leadership, integrity, compassion, respect, responsibility, loyalty, law-abiding, transparency, and environmental concerns.

What are the 8 points of ethics? ›

This analysis focuses on whether and how the statements in these eight codes specify core moral norms (Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Maleficence, and Justice), core behavioral norms (Veracity, Privacy, Confidentiality, and Fidelity), and other norms that are empirically derived from the code statements.

What are the 8 norms of ethics? ›

The focus of discussion was on the 8 Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees which were a) Commitment to public interest, b) Professionalism, c) Justness and sincerity, d) Public Neutrality, e) Responsiveness to the public, f) Nationalism and patriotism, g) Commitment to democracy and h) Simple living.

What are the 9 ethical guidelines? ›

The principles that we will cover are utilitarianism, universalism, rights/legal, justice, virtue, common good, and ethical relativism approaches. As you read these, ask yourself which principles characterize and underlie your own values, beliefs, behaviors, and actions.

What does disrespect look like at work? ›

Examples of disrespect include malicious gossip, threats or intimidation, giving people the silent treatment, and the unwelcome use of profanity. While not unlawful, disrespect saps employee morale and is typically the first step toward harassment and possibly even workplace violence.

How do I stop disrespectful coworkers? ›

Here are some methods you can try if you have disrespectful employees in your workplace:
  1. Remain calm when facing disrespect. ...
  2. Listen. ...
  3. Provide clear feedback. ...
  4. Document incidents. ...
  5. Be consistent. ...
  6. Enforce rules. ...
  7. Check in on other employees.
Feb 21, 2023

How to deal with a rude coworker? ›

How to deal with a rude coworker
  1. Discuss with the team member in private and make your feelings known. ...
  2. Consider the cause of the behavior. ...
  3. Check with trusted colleagues and see if they notice the same thing. ...
  4. Detach from the situation and objectively observe. ...
  5. Call on your sense of humor to dispel any bad feelings.
Mar 10, 2023

What are toxic behaviors at work? ›

Common behaviors include bullying, yelling, manipulating and belittling. Employees in a toxic work environment may be nervous to speak their minds, raise concerns or share thoughts because they are worried about being rejected or reprimanded.

What is unacceptable conduct? ›

Examples of unacceptable behaviour

threats, verbal abuse, shouting, obscene / derogatory remarks and rudeness.

What are the 10 appropriate workplace behaviors and attitudes? ›

10 ways to maintain professional behavior in the workplace
  • Arrive on time. Punctuality shows your coworkers that you are reliable, care about your work and value their time. ...
  • Follow your company's dress code. ...
  • Communicate respectfully. ...
  • Be honest. ...
  • Have a positive attitude. ...
  • Take responsibility. ...
  • Avoid social media. ...
  • Help others.
Jan 31, 2023

What is the best code of conduct? ›

What makes a good code of conduct?
  • The regulations in the code of conduct are oriented towards the profile of the company. ...
  • The text is worded in a comprehensible way. ...
  • The document is easily accessible to all employees. ...
  • The code of conduct is regularly updated and communicated.
Dec 9, 2022

What are the 6 ethical principles? ›

This chapter explains the "ethical principles" that guide the helping professions: autonomy, nonmaleficence, beneficence, justice, fidelity, and veracity. Autonomy is a right to self-determination of choice and freedom from the control of others.

What is code of conduct in one word? ›

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining the norms, rules, and responsibilities or proper practices of an individual party or an organization.

What is an example of a work ethic? ›

What is this? Examples of work ethic include always turning up for work on time, consistently working hard while on the clock, and aiming to produce the best quality work you can within the shortest timeframe.

What is an example of employee code of ethics? ›

All [Company name] employees are also expected to support an inclusive workplace by adhering to the following conduct standards: Treat others with dignity and respect at all times. Address and report inappropriate behavior and comments that are discriminatory, harassing, abusive, offensive or unwelcome.

What is unethical code of conduct? ›

Unethical conduct is when you become aware of another person not adhering to professional ethics and therefore, behaving in a way that puts clients at risk. Examples of unethical conduct could include situations such as: a fellow worker is overheard gossiping about a client at the local pub.

What is an ethical violation in the workplace? ›

What is an ethical violation? In a nutshell, an ethical violation is something that is - spoken, written, actioned - that violates a company's documented code of ethics, mission, vision, values, and culture. We also know that ethical violations laugh in the face of what is considered normal societal behaviour.

What does code of conduct not apply to? ›

Code of conduct does not include Dishonesty.

A code of conduct is a set of rules outlining an individual party or an organization's norms, rules and responsibilities or proper practices.

What is not a code of conduct? ›

Hence code of management is not a part of code of conduct.

What are examples of professional behavior? ›

Examples of professional behavior include, but are not limited to: Placing the success of the team above self interest; not undermining the team; helping and supporting other team members; showing respect for all team members; remaining flexible and open to change; communicating with others to resolve problems.

What are the 5 steps of developing a code of conduct? ›

  • WhitePaper.
  • Table of Contents.
  • Developing a Code of Conduct: A Step-by-Step Guide.
  • Step One: Gathering Information.
  • Step Two: Creating the Draft.
  • Step Three: Reviewing the Draft.
  • Step 4: Formally Adopting the Code.
  • Step 5: Introducing the Code.
Jul 11, 2013

What is the key principles of code of conduct? ›

The core ethical principles of beneficence (do good), nonmaleficence (do not harm), autonomy (control by the individual), and justice (fairness) stated by Beauchamp and Childress7 are important to a code of ethics.

What is an example of a code of ethics? ›

Personal code of ethics examples. I will treat others as I wish to be treated. I will dedicate myself to acting courteously in my day-to-day interactions with others, despite my mood or current life situation. It is important to me to have a positive impact on the people I come into contact with.

What is an example of a code of conduct in the workplace? ›

All employees should respect their colleagues. We won't allow any kind of discriminatory behavior, harassment or victimization. Employees should conform with our equal opportunity policy in all aspects of their work, from recruitment and performance evaluation to interpersonal relations.

What are the 8 ethical guidelines? ›

This analysis focuses on whether and how the statements in these eight codes specify core moral norms (Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Maleficence, and Justice), core behavioral norms (Veracity, Privacy, Confidentiality, and Fidelity), and other norms that are empirically derived from the code statements.


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