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Conflicts of interest can be a tricky topic when it comes to the workplace. That's why it's important to have a policy in place that deals with these situations in a fair and consistent manner.
We've put together a simple how-to for Conflicts of Interest Policies in Australia, so you can write up an effective document that suits the needs of your business.
What is a Conflict of Interest Policy?
A Conflict of Interest Policy in Australia is a document that states the responsibilities of all persons in a business to avoid conflicts of interest in the workplace.
What is a conflict of interest?
A conflict of interest refers to anytime that an employee's personal interests go against those of the company. For example, if an employee has a side business that competes with the employer's business or if a manager is involved in a romantic relationship with one of his employees.
When should I use a Conflict of Interest Policy?
For maximum effect, a business should implement a Conflict of Interest Policy as soon as it employs its first staff. Along with their Contract of Employment, an employee needs to sign the Conflict of Interest Policy before they start work to show that they have acknowledged the policy and understand its content.
What does a Conflict of Interest Policy include?
A Conflict of Interest Policy doesn't have to be a lengthy document. In fact, most are just a few pages long. However, there are some essential aspects of a Conflict of Interest Policy that should be covered, including:
- Purpose of the policy,
- Who the policy applies to,
- A definition of a conflict of interest,
- Acknowledgement of different types of conflicts,
- How to identify a conflict of interest in the workplace,
- Process of reporting a conflict of interest,
- How your business will manage and resolve a conflict of interest.
How effective is a Conflict of Interest Policy?
A Conflict of Interest can be a helpful tool in protecting your organisation. It acts as a preventative measure before any conflicts arise in the workplace, and allows all members of staff to know where they stand in certain situations. In the unlikely event that a conflict of interest does occur, your policy will outline effective steps to deal with and resolve it.
Do I need a lawyer for a Conflict of Interest Policy?
You don't strictly need a lawyer to help you to draft a Conflict of Interest Policy, but it can be to your advantage to seek legal help. While the contents of the policy are relatively simple, you'll need to make sure that you've included all relevant clauses for your business. This is where a lawyer proves much more useful than a Conflict of Interest Policy template.
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How do I write a Conflict of Interest Policy?
To write a Conflict of Interest Policy in Australia, you first need to assess the needs of your business. Using these guidelines, along with a Conflict of Interest Policy template will put you in a good position to write your policy.
Here are a few sections to consider including in your policy and a general idea of how to structure it:
Purpose and scope
A short section at the beginning of the policy should address the purpose of the document and who it applies to.
What are conflicts of interest?
Here, you should provide a detailed description of how your business defines a 'conflict of interest'. You could also include examples to demonstrate different types of conflicts of interest that can occur in the workplace.
Approach to conflicts management
One of the most important aspects of the policy is addressing how your business will deal with any conflicts of interest that do arise. This should include information on how:
- to identify conflicts in the workplace,
- to declare or report them,
- the conflict will be managed and eventually resolved.
Following on from the 'scope', this section will give you the opportunity to define the responsibilities of all the staff when it comes to upholding the Conflicts of Interest Policy. This should address the obligations of staff, supervisors, senior management and any stakeholders.
Where to get free legal documents and templates like a Conflict of Interest Policy
There's no end of online resources that can help you out with your Conflict of Interest Policy. From free legal templates to fixed-price legal help and government guidance, the internet is full of useful information.
We've put together a list of websites that you can use to access a free Conflict of Interest template. Some will let you browse the template for free, but you might need to pay a one-time fee to customise and download it
- Lawpath. A useful online legal resource that allows you to download your first document template for free. Afterwards, you can sign up to their monthly subscription plan for unlimited access to legal templates and advice.
- LegalVision. Pay a monthly membership fee to gain access to an unlimited number of legal templates.
- WonderLegal. Take your pick of more than 140 legal templates before customising and downloading one for a set fee.
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