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Ethical Conduct Policy

Classification number LCG 1145
Framework category Legal, Compliance and Governance
Approving authority Board of Governors
Policy owner University Secretary and General Counsel
Approval date June 25, 2020
Review date June 2021


The purpose of this Policy is to promote standards of ethical conduct that advance integrity and accountability, and support the University’s mission, vision and values.


For the purposes of this Policy the following definitions apply:

“Conflict of Interest” means a situation where an Employee has an opportunity to exercise an official power, duty or function in a way that furthers his or her private interests or those of his or her relatives or friends or that improperly furthers another person’s private interests.

“Confidential Information” means any information deemed confidential under University information security policies, non-public or proprietary University information, information expressly or implicitly shared in confidence, and any and all personal information as defined in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

“Employees” means individuals, including students, who are employed by the University or holding an appointment with the University including paid, unpaid and/or honorific appointments.

“Gift” means anything of value, including cash, cash equivalents, items, hospitality, entertainment or goods given to an Employee by an external party in connection with an Employee’s University responsibilities or position. For further clarity, External Funding and Awards, Expenses for Outside Activities, Donations and University Administered Funding, are not considered Gifts.

“Expenses or Hospitality” means travel, transportation, accommodation and admission expenses incurred by an Employee in the completion of Exempt Outside Activities (including voluntary service with payment of an Honorarium) to an entity other than the University.

“External Funding and Awards” means grants and funding such as research grants, fellowships, awards or honors that are awarded to an individual for academic merit and not administered by the University. These honors are not considered Gifts for the purposes of this Policy.

“Exempt Outside Activities” means Outside Activities that constitute service to the employee’s discipline or to the University. This includes teaching in Ontario Tech Continuous Learning, being an external reviewer for a department at another university, being an external referee for a promotion or tenure case, acting as a peer reviewer for a granting agency or publisher, serving as editor of a journal in one’s area of expertise, serving as a local, regional, national or international representative on a professional organization, presenting at a conference, workshop, seminar or event, serving on a board of directors at the University’s request, or other activities consistent with service to the discipline.

“Honorarium” means a voluntary payment made to a person for services for which fees are not legally or traditionally required.

“Report” means a written report made by a University Member under this Policy concerning any actual or perceived violation of this Policy where the report is:

  • Made to a University Recipient;
  • Based on a reasonable belief or information that the violation has occurred; and
  • Not malicious, frivolous, vexatious and/or knowingly false.

“Related Person” means a spouse, common-law spouse, domestic partner, child, stepchild, sibling, parent, sister/brother-in-law, mother/father-in-law, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle, cousin, grandparent or grandchild of an Employee or an individual with whom an Employee has an ongoing or past romantic or sexual relationship.

“Outside Activities” means any activity outside an Employee’s scope of work with the University that involves the same specialized skill and knowledge that the employee uses in their work with the University and includes the operation of a business, consulting or advisory services and speaking engagements.

"Reprisal" refers to the retaliation against, coercion, dismissal, threats or intimidation of any individual who in good faith submits a Report, or participates in a related investigation under this Policy.

“University Administered Funding” means grants and funding such as research grants, fellowships, awards or honors that are awarded to an individual or a research project, and administered by the University in accordance with applicable research finance procedures. This type of funding is not considered a Gift for the purposes of this policy.

“Donation” means a voluntary gift of cash and/or in-kind, given to the benefit of the University. Donations are not considered Gifts under this Policy, and will be accepted in accordance with the University’s Gift Acceptance Policy.

“University Member” means any individual who is:

  • Employed by the University;
  • Registered as a student, in accordance with the academic regulations of the University;
  • Holding an appointment with the University, including paid, unpaid and/or honorific appointments; and/or
  • Otherwise subject to University policies by virtue of the requirements of a specific policy (e.g. Booking and Use of University Space) and/or the terms of an agreement or contract.

“University Recipient” means the:

  • Appropriate supervisor or manager;
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a Report that is finance-related, or the Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee where the disclosure may implicate the CFO; or
  • General Counsel (GC) for a Report that is non-financial, or the Chair of the Governance, Nominations and Human Resources Committee (GNHR) where the disclosure may implicate the GC.
“University Resources” means tangible or intangible property, facilities and/or assets purchased, leased or acquired by the University, or under the University's control, that are intended to foster or support the ongoing mission of the University.

Scope and authority

This Policy applies to Employees of the University.

The University is fully committed to promoting and advocating academic freedom. This policy does not limit academic freedom.

This Policy does not apply to Conflicts of Interest or Conflicts of Commitment where the Conflict of Interest in Research Policy applies.

The University Secretary and General Counsel, or successor thereof, is the Policy Owner and is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of this Policy.


All Employees will act ethically and with integrity. Employees are responsible to the University for their actions, and decisions not to act, when they are representing the University.

Compliance with the Ethical Conduct Policy

  1. Employees must be familiar with the requirements of this Policy. All new Employees will receive a copy of the Policy and acknowledge that they have read it. Employees will confirm their compliance with this Policy each year.

Compliance with Laws, University by-laws and Policies

  1. Employees must be familiar with the compliance requirements that govern their work at the University. These include laws, University by-laws, policies, procedures and contractual commitments.
  2. Employees must, in good faith, adhere to compliance requirements in fulfilling their duties. Where there is a question about compliance, Employees are expected to seek guidance from their supervisors.
  3. Employees must complete all mandatory compliance training within six months of their start date and prior to engaging in any activities that require specialized training.
  4. Employees in regulated professions whose roles at the University consist of regulated professional activities must comply with all applicable codes or standards in all of their professional activities.

Confidentiality and Privacy

  1. Employees may have access to Confidential Information in connection with the performance of their duties. Confidential Information must not be used or disclosed without direction. Disclosure of Confidential Information without a legitimate purpose is prohibited. Where there is a question about the disclosure or use of Confidential Information, Employees are expected to seek guidance from their supervisor.
  2. Employees must be familiar with and comply with relevant laws and University policies and procedures pertaining to privacy and the access, use, modification, protection, and disclosure of personal information.
  3. Every Employee has the responsibility to protect Personal and Confidential information. Employees must protect physical information (such as paper) and electronic information (such as email, student and employee data) in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

Conflict of Interest

  1. To ensure public and professional trust and confidence, the University will deal with actual, potential, or perceived Conflicts of Interest in a consistent and transparent way.
  2. A Conflict of Interest arises when an Employee’s official power, duty or function provides an opportunity to further their private interests or those of a Related Person, friend or external organization, or to improperly further another person’s private interests.
  3. Employees must not act in self-interest or further their private interests by virtue of their position at the University or through fulfilling their University responsibilities.

Addressing Conflicts of Interest

  1. In all cases where an Employee believes or suspects they may be in a real, potential or perceived Conflict of Interest, they must disclose it to their supervisor immediately.
  2. Conflicts of Interest disclosed under this policy will be resolved by the supervisor in accordance with the Procedure to Address Conflicts of Interest under this policy.
  3. Provided potential Conflicts of Interest can be mitigated in an approved mitigation plan, an individual may be permitted to remain involved in a situation with a potential Conflict of Interest.
  4. Related Persons: A Related Person may apply for, and be considered for positions at the University. An Employee should not exercise any form of supervision or direct influence over a Related Person and should not be the sole decision-making authority for decisions related to hiring, tenure, promotions, renewal of contracts, performance evaluation, disciplinary procedures, salary considerations or confidentiality for a Related Person.
  5. Relationships with individuals under supervision: Employees hold a position of trust and power in their interactions with students and individuals who report to them. Relationships (including sexual and romantic relationships) must not jeopardize the effective functioning of the University by the appearance of either favoritism or unfairness in the exercise of professional judgment. Employees are expected to be aware of their professional responsibilities and to avoid apparent or actual Conflict of Interest, favoritism or bias. Employees should exercise discretion when asking for favors from individuals under their supervision, due to the inherent power imbalance, as mutual consent may be in question.
  6. The existence of a sexual or romantic relationship between an Employee and a person who reports to them in an employment/supervisory relationship or who relies upon them for opportunities to further their academic or employment career must be disclosed, to their supervisor. Their supervisor will remove any ability to exercise any form of supervision or direct influence.

Concurrent Employment and Conflict of Commitment

  1. A Conflict of Commitment occurs when an Employee’s commitment to external activities adversely affects their capacity to meet University responsibilities, or results in a divided loyalty between the University and an external organization. Accordingly, the nature and extent of professional service, consulting and related work undertaken should complement the primary commitment of Employees to the University. Concurrent employment must not detract from the University’s right to full-time and efficient service from its full-time Employees.
  2. Before an Employee accepts any Outside Activities that may result in a Conflict of Interest or Conflict of Commitment, the Employee must report the potential Outside Activity to the University.
  3. Exempt Outside Activities do not need to be reported in advance, and an employee may accept an Honorarium for their service.
  4. Any concurrent employment of a registered Ontario Tech student who is an Employee does not need to be reported and will be deemed to have been preapproved.
  5. Reporting of Conflicts of Commitment will be done in accordance with the established procedures, and/or in accordance with the relevant collective agreement where the Employee is a member of a bargaining unit.

Political Activity

  1. Employees are free to participate actively in the political process and the University upholds the right of every person to support political parties, political committees, and candidates of their choosing. Employees have the right to seek and hold political office. The University requires that an Employee’s efforts devoted to political activity:
    1. Not constitute a Conflict of Interest;
    2. Be outside of working hours;
    3. Be without contribution or other support from the University;
    4. Be without implied or official endorsement by the University due to the Employee’s position at the University; and
    5. Not involve the use of University Resources.

Use of University Resources

  1. Employees may only use University Resources for activities on behalf of the University and within their scope of responsibility.
  2. Notwithstanding section 14.1, University Resources may be used for personal purposes in limited circumstances when permitted by an existing policy or where incidental personal use is reasonable in all of the circumstances.
  3. The use of University Resources is prohibited where resources are used:
    1. To perform duties associated with outside employment.
    2. In a way that impedes normal University activities.
    3. In a way that creates additional expense for the University.
    4. For the purposes of political campaigning.
  4. Employees are required to treat University Resources with care and to adhere to laws and university policies and procedures regarding the acquisition, use, maintenance, documentation, and disposal of University Resources.

Accepting Gifts

  1. This section addresses Gifts given to an individual Employee. For information related to Donations, see the Gift Acceptance Policy (LCG 1130).
  2. Employees must not accept Gifts that are connected directly or indirectly with the performance of their University responsibilities or position, where a reasonable person might conclude that the Gift could influence the Employee when performing their duties on behalf of the University. Employees must avoid the appearance of a Conflict of Interest due to the acceptance of Gifts from entities involved in a business transaction with the University, or subject to a decision the Employee will make.
  3. Gifts that are consistent with section 15.2 may be accepted where they are nominal in value and are:
    1. The normal exchange of gifts between friends;
    2. Tokens exchanged as part of protocol at an official ceremony or function;
    3. Exchanges of gifts where the exchange is culturally significant to the parties involved; and/or
    4. The normal presentation of gifts to persons participating in public functions, awards, speeches, lectures, presentations or seminars.
  4. The Office of the University Secretary and General Counsel will establish a Procedure for reporting and addressing Gifts that are accepted that are not nominal in nature. The Office of the University Secretary and General Counsel will maintain a registry of Gifts accepted by its Employees and provide a report to the Board of Governors each year.

Exempt Outside Activities

  1. Reasonable Expenses or Hospitality for Exempt Outside Activity may be accepted where it is the normal exchange of hospitality between persons doing business together, and would be otherwise allowable as an expense claim under the University’s Expense Policy and Procedure.

Reporting and Investigation

  1. Maintaining the ethical standards of this Policy is the responsibility of every Employee. Anyone who has observed or learned of a violation of this Policy should make a written Report to a University Recipient. Reports will be addressed in accordance with the University Investigation Procedure.
  2. Good faith reports will be based on a reasonable belief or information that the violation has occurred, or could potentially occur and will not be malicious, frivolous, vexatious and/or knowingly false.
  3. Employee Reports will, to the extent possible, remain confidential. The University will not tolerate any Reprisal or retaliation for reports made in good faith. Employees will not be penalized for inquiring about and/or reporting, in good faith, suspected unethical behavior or for seeking guidance on how to handle potential violations or suspected illegal acts.

Protection from Reprisal

  1. No University Member who makes a Report will be subjected to Reprisal, either directly or indirectly. Any Reprisal for making and pursuing a Report under this Procedure is itself considered a breach of the Code of Ethical Conduct Policy. The University will investigate and take all appropriate action to address allegations of Reprisal.

Monitoring and review

This Policy will be reviewed after its first year in effect, and thereafter as necessary and at least every three years. The University Secretary and General Counsel, or successor thereof, is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.

Relevant legislation

Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c O.1, as amended
Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.19
Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c F. 31

Related policies, procedures & documents

Gift Registry Procedures 
Code of Ethics Investigation Procedures 
Conflict of Interest Procedures 

Personal Use of University Resources Policy
Technology Use Policy
Harassment and Discrimination Policy and Procedure
Policy Against Workplace Violence, Harassment and Discrimination and related procedures
Information Security Policy
Procurement of Goods and Services Policy and Procedure
Supply Chain Code of Ethics
Fair Processes Policy
Safe Disclosure Policy and Procedures
Policies that address Conflicts of Interest in specific situations:
• Gift Acceptance Policy
• Use of Instructor-Produced Materials for Course Requirements Procedure
• The Conflict of Interest in Research Policy
• Expendable Funds Policy
• Statement of Investment Policies