Code of conduct

A code of conduct lays out an organization’s expectations and guiding principles for appropriate workplace behaviour. Some policies also provide legal and ethical guidelines for relationships between employees, service users and clients.

  • A code of conduct policy should:
  • Be designed with consideration for your organization’s values, the clients you work with and the service you provide;
  • Be driven by the fact that your organization’s reputation and work environment are based on the actions and behaviours of your employees;
  • Provide guidelines for acceptable behaviour;
  • Emphasize use of good judgment;
  • Require compliance with all applicable legislation;
  • Provide examples of prohibited actions or behaviour that are regarded as misconduct (and it may specify the consequences of violations), but state that these are examples only and not all inclusive
  • Refer to other related policies (for example: handling of confidential information, harassment, and conflict of interest).

Your code of conduct should be designed to suit the needs and expectations in your unique environment. After that, awareness and implementation become the keys to the success of a useful and practical code of conduct.


The ultimate goal of policies and procedures on discipline is to improve performance and compliance with organization standards by correcting unsatisfactory behaviour. The role of management in fostering growth and understanding is an important part of creating a positive work environment and promoting positive behaviour. A policy complements this leadership and guides line managers in fair and consistent treatment.

Many organizations use progressive discipline, where repeated or more severe offences result in stronger penalties. This approach gives the employee the opportunity to recognize and change his or her behaviour.

Depending on the severity of an employee’s action, management may have the right to jump straight to termination – that is, the permanent separation of an employee from the organization, which is often seen as the most severe form of discipline.

Your policy should clearly introduce and outline disciplinary procedures. It should provide examples of what type of action would result in an instant dismissal.
The importance of consistent and objective application, clear communication and detailed documentation (date, actions taken, relation of behaviour to job, etc) cannot be emphasized enough.

Hiring: Recruitment and Selection

Policies on recruitment and selection outline how recruitment will be done and provide guidelines for the selection process. Recruitment is the process of gathering a group of qualified applicants. It includes tasks like writing a job description and job postings, and going through the steps of posting it internally (e.g. bulletin boards, intranet, e-mail notification), externally (e.g. newspaper ads, temp agencies, internet), or both.

Selection is the process designed to determine the most qualified candidate from the group of applicants. It includes tasks like reviewing resumes, interviewing, work related testing, reference checks and the final employment offer.

From the words in a job posting to the questions asked during an interview, it is necessary to be objective and to focus on the requirements of the job in order to avoid discriminatory practices. Consult applicable human rights legislation to ensure your recruitment and selection process complies with it.

Hiring: Probation

A period of probation:

  • Allows for the process of conducting reviews and assessing employee performance prior to granting full employee status;
  • Can help avoid future problems by finding out early on if the person and the job aren’t a good fit;
  • Is for a specific amount of time (it may include guidelines around possible extensions).

The probationary period as outlined in your organization’s policies should be stated in the letter of offer. The policy on probation may address performance reviews, details of communication, eligibility for benefits, the possibility of extending the probationary period, and termination including provisions for notice/severance if employment is terminated during the probationary period. Termination during or at the end of the probationary period must be in compliance with employment legislation.
It is important to sit down with the new hire to explain the details of the probationary period and to discuss expectations.


Statutory or public holidays are days the government has designated as paid days off. Much of the content of your policy will be based directly on the law.
In addition to identifying statutory holidays, most legislation also governs:

  • How holidays which fall on a regular day off are to be handled;
  • The rate of pay that must be paid to those who work the holiday;
  • How to calculate holiday pay for part-time employees.

It is important to note that in most jurisdictions part-time employees are entitled to holiday pay whether or not the holiday falls on their usual work day. Your policy should identify the holidays that are provided by law.


Issues to be addressed by your overtime policy include:

  • Who is eligible? What conditions apply? Can employees work extra hours if they feel it is necessary or is prior approval by the executive director required?
  • How will employees be compensated? Once an employee works overtime as defined in the employment standards for your jurisdiction, how the employee is compensated is legislated by the employment standards. In organizations with a work week that is shorter than the standard work week as defined by employment standards employees may work more hours than your organization’s workweek, but compensating these overtime hours may not be covered by employment standards. Your policy on overtime should cover this grey area if it exists. Will employees be compensated at a rate of one hour for each hour worked, or time and one half for each hour worked? Will employees be given the choice of how they want to be compensated – of time off in lieu or payment?

Your organization’s overtime policy must comply with legislation; provide your organization with the flexibility to get work done in special circumstances; and, fit within your budgetary constraints.


Internet and e-mail use

Computers and the internet have changed the way we work and communicate. One of the results is an increase in policies that outline general principles and philosophies, clarify boundaries of acceptable practices for the employee and encourage responsible use. Policies may cover the use of the computer (possible offsite, personal use) security issues, guidelines for internet and e-mail, and the right to monitor employee use.
When creating an internet use policy, address the following issues:

  • Whether employees are allowed to browse the web for personal use as well as business purposes;
  • When employees can use the web for personal use (lunch hours, after-hours, etc.);
  • If and how the organization monitors web use and what level of privacy employees can expect;
  • Web activity that is not allowed. Spell out examples of unacceptable behavior, but be sure to say the list is not inclusive and that employees are expected to use good judgment. In many workplaces unacceptable behavior includes downloading offensive content, threatening or violent behaviour, illegal activities, commercial solicitations (non-business related).

* Also consider appropriate images for screen savers and wallpaper backgrounds. Provide two copies of the policy to employees – one for them to keep and another for them to sign and return to you.

Establishing job evaluation policy and procedures

Job evaluation is the systematic process for assessing the relative worth of jobs within an organization. A comprehensive analysis of each position’s tasks, responsibilities, knowledge, and skill requirements is used to assess the value to the employer of the job’s content and provide an internal ranking of the jobs. It is important to remember that job evaluation is a measurement of the internal relativity of the position and not the incumbent in the position. This analysis can also contribute to effective job design by establishing the organizational context and value of the job, and to hiring and promotion processes by providing job analysis on skill and competencies required to successfully meet job requirements.

A comprehensive job evaluation policy and process can serve to both ensure, and demonstrate, objective and fair decision-making regarding compensation structures, staffing and promotion.
As good practice, organizations can choose to set up a job evaluation committee to support the process .
The job evaluation policy should outline:

  • The purpose of the policy;
  • The objectives of the policy;
  • Roles and responsibilities for implementing the policy;
  • A step-by-step list of procedures for the evaluation process;
  • An appeal process for employees to follow.

Leaves: maternity leave, parental and adoption leave

Legislated requirements for maternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave are aimed at ensuring that biological and adoptive parents have access to time off to have and care for a new child, and to assure that they can go back to the same job or a comparable position when the leave is over. Most provinces and territories have fact sheets about maternity and parental/adoption leave.
All jurisdictions set minimum requirements for the duration of maternity leave and parental/adoption leave.

Leaves: sick and personal leave

To address the issue of occasional absence from work due to illness, many organizations grant employees a limited number of days per year often referred to as sick days. A policy on sick/personal leave may include:

  • Purpose of the leave;
  • How time is accrued;
  • Conditions for claiming sick or personal leave;
  • A maximum number of days which can be taken;
  • What happens with unused leave time.

Considerations when developing a sick and personal leave policy include:

  • Employment standards in some jurisdictions have requirements for unpaid sick leave;
  • Paid sick leave is an optional benefit employers may grant to employees;
  • Some people believe that abuse of sick leave is reduced by requiring a note from a medical practitioner;
  • Some organizations grant each employee “personal time off”. These days can be used for personal responsibilities, family obligations, illness, or any other purpose. Typically, no explanation is necessary and a note from a medical practitioner is not needed;
  • The priorities and values of your organization should be reflected in a sick/personal leave;
  • Arrangements to deal with short-term and long-term disability may complement sick leave.

Recognition and reward

A well-designed recognition and reward policy, that creates a work environment where employees feel appreciated for their efforts and contribution, serves to attract, retain and motivate employees.

Establishing your policy and process. When establishing your policy and process, consider the following aspects of recognition and reward:


  • Recognition and reward should be aligned to organization values;
  • Clearly identify what you want to reward, such as:
  • Ongoing excellence in performance
  • Performance over and above job requirements
  • Client compliments on service
  • Outstanding one-time achievement
  • Contribution to team effectiveness
  • Recognition and reward should become part of the organization’s culture
  • How will you foster informal and formal recognition and reward?
  • Encourage supervisors and peers to say thank you – one of the easiest and most underused recognition tools
  • Encourage informal recognition on the job, at meetings, etc.
  • Establish formal recognition programs, based on a specific organizational goal or value
  • Determine the most effective types of recognition and reward.
  • Recognition is as simple as saying thank-you or as elaborate as a formal presentation at a company event
  • Ask employees what kinds of rewards they would appreciate (within the limits of the organization’s budget) – possibly provide a “suite” of rewards that employees can choose from
  • Rewards can be cash or non-cash
  • Establish a budget for rewards (preferably allocated quarterly, so achievement early in the year doesn’t get over-rewarded compared to achievement late in the year)
  • Who makes the recognition and reward decision? And how?
  • Organizations usually encourage informal recognition to be given by anyone at any level in the company, peer-to-peer, supervisor-to-subordinate, subordinate-to-supervisor, etc.
  • In order to manage costs and ensure equitable and objective decision making, organizations should establish specific processes for nominating and awarding individuals or teams for rewards; nominations can also be peer-to-peer, supervisor-to-subordinate, subordinate-to-supervisor, etc. but final approval, particularly for rewards of significant value, is usually done by a reward and recognition committee or senior management.


Vacation is annual paid time off for employees. Azerbaijan‘s jurisdictions have minimum standards for paid vacation and your policy needs to be consistent with the applicable law. Your policy may exceed the minimum standards allowed in the law.

Vacation policies tend to cover:

  • Employee’s eligibility for vacation with pay;
  • Length of vacation (typically longer with more years of service);
  • How vacation time can be taken (all at once, one week at a time, etc);
  • Vacation pay (how much, and when employees receive it);
  • Scheduling vacations;
  • Accrued vacation time (whether employees must take it within the year, or if carryover is permitted).

Accrued vacation time can easily get out of hand, requiring large payouts. Therefore some organization limit the number of days of vacation an employee can carry over to the next fiscal year. Instead employees are encouraged to take their vacation in the year in which it is earned.