Code of conduct policy
This code of conduct sets out the expectations Healthwatch Warwickshire has of all those who work or carry out activities for it, in a voluntary or paid capacity, including employees, and volunteers. For ease of reference, these parties will be called representatives throughout the rest of the document.
The title of Volunteer Supporter used in this document refers to the named contact in Healthwatch Warwickshire who supports our team of volunteers.
Everyone who represents Healthwatch Warwickshire is expected to behave professionally and in support of our values outlined below.
Selflessness: Our representatives will act only in the public interest.
Compliance with law: All those who represent Healthwatch Warwickshire are required to abide by relevant laws and regulations, including those relating to the environment, health and safety, discrimination, disability, and employment. Representatives will be ethical and responsible whenever dealing with company finances, the services we deliver, partnership and collaborative working and public image. Representatives will inform the Healthwatch Warwickshire Chair or Chief Executive immediately of any possible or actual infringement.
Conflict of interest: Representatives will complete a declaration of interest form when they join Healthwatch Warwickshire, and ensure it is kept up to date. Representatives are expected to maintain professional boundaries in their relationships with each other, and external parties such as commissioners and providers.
Serving the public: Representatives will always perform their duties to the highest standard and treat members of the public with dignity and respect, taking account of their individual needs. Representatives will actively promote equality, diversity and social inclusion and encourage all the community to participate in engagement activities. Representatives will be honest and impartial when conducting Healthwatch activity, regardless of personal views and will discuss any conflict with the appropriate line manager or Volunteer Supporter. Healthwatch Warwickshire is a politically neutral and independent organisation.
Use of public funds: Representatives of Healthwatch Warwickshire have a duty to ensure the safeguarding of public money and proper care of assets which have been publicly funded. Representatives will carry out these obligations responsibly and take appropriate measures to ensure that Healthwatch Warwickshire uses resources efficiently, economically, and effectively, avoiding waste and extravagance.
Respect in the workplace: Our aim is to create a positive environment within which individuals and organisations with an interest in our work can contribute freely, equally, and openly. Use of technology for virtual meetings and events will also be regarded as ‘the workplace’. We will not allow any kind of discriminatory behaviour, harassment, or victimisation.
Representing Healthwatch Warwickshire: Staff and volunteers including board members are accountable to the public for their actions and the way they carry out their responsibilities. They should always behave in a manner which does not bring Healthwatch Warwickshire into disrepute or damage our relationship with the public, service providers or other stakeholders. Representatives must be respectful and offer constructive criticism which does not seek to undermine an individual.
Healthwatch Warwickshire board members are expected to understand and respect the principle of collective decision making and abide by Healthwatch Warwickshire Articles of Association and Scheme of Delegation. When a decision is made, all Board members are bound by that decision and should publicly support it.
Where representatives of Healthwatch Warwickshire attend meetings whether in person or virtual means, they will provide feedback in a timely and structured manner. When speaking on behalf of Healthwatch Warwickshire, representatives will reflect the priorities and policies of Healthwatch Warwickshire, even if they differ from personal views. If they are there in a personal capacity or a capacity connected with another role they undertake, they should always be explicit if they are expressing their own personal views. When participating in meetings or other activities, in person or online, Healthwatch Warwickshire representatives agree to:
- Attend on time and be prepared
- Send apologies if unable to attend
- Listen to, respect and value the opinions of others
- Speak one at a time through the Chair or meeting facilitator
- Be clear and keep to the point, using plain English and avoiding the use of jargon and acronyms
- Ask for more information or explanation if necessary
- Declare an interest where one exists or may be perceived to exist
- Work positively with other Healthwatch representatives
- Provide feedback to those they represent
- Respect the authority of the role of the Chair or meeting facilitator and accept a majority vote, where needed, as decisive
Approaches to representatives by third parties for information or views, including contact with the media must be referred to the Chief Executive or Chair of the Board. In respect of media communications, the Chair or Chief Executive will be the official spokesperson of Healthwatch Warwickshire, and no other staff or volunteer should commit to media interviews without first consulting and gaining the approval of the Chair.
All staff and volunteers must be politically impartial in their public role. Healthwatch Warwickshire will sometimes initiate or participate in campaigning about an issue. Care must be taken to ensure that, in doing so, the principle of political neutrality is always maintained and that nothing is done that could be interpreted as partisan in nature or suggests support for a specific party-political view.
Duty of confidentiality: Healthwatch Warwickshire will sometimes receive information which is not in the public domain, often relating to individuals, organisations or financial matters. Representatives of Healthwatch Warwickshire will respect confidentiality and not divulge third party information without the agreement of the third party, or a legal requirement to do so, and operate according to our Confidentiality policy.
Equality, diversity, and inclusion: We are committed to understanding, accepting and appreciating individual difference. In practice, this means treating others with dignity and respect, recognising the value of each individual and their experience. We will not tolerate discrimination against others based on, but not limited to age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex and sexual orientation.
Gifts and hospitality: It is not normally acceptable for representatives of Healthwatch Warwickshire to accept a gift, reward or favour from others for work done in an official capacity. This does not include gifts of minor value (less than £20) such as pens or calendars.
If gifts are offered, your Line Manager, Volunteer Supporter or Chair must be informed, and will determine the action to be taken.
Alcohol, substance misuse and smoking: Smoking is not permitted on Healthwatch Warwickshire premises, or within the premises where Healthwatch Warwickshire work is being undertaken.
Consumption of alcohol is not permitted during working hours. Representatives of Healthwatch Warwickshire must not be under the influence of alcohol, illegal drugs or other substances during working hours.
Incapacity for work through the misuse of drink, drugs or other substances is a disciplinary matter for staff and will be addressed through the problem-solving process for volunteers. Where representatives are prescribed medication that may affect their mood or ability to carry out their role, they should bring this to the attention of their line manager or volunteer supporter.
Dress code: All representatives of Healthwatch Warwickshire should be neat and tidy in appearance and dress appropriately for their day and their audience. If for any reason that the representative is not dressing appropriately for their day or audience, the senior management team have the right to address this in supervision.
If any employee or volunteer has a question or concern, or feels that an employee, volunteer, or the organisation is not meeting the commitment outlined in this document, do not stay silent. Contact your Line Manager, Chief Executive, Volunteer Supporter, Board Member or Chair. If the concern remains unresolved, reference should be made to our Grievance procedure, the problem-solving process for volunteers, or our Whistleblowing policy.
Members of the public who wish to report a breach in our code of conduct can raise the concern directly with the Chair or Chief Executive. Alternatively, if it is more appropriate, they can raise a complaint in accordance with our Complaints policy which is also available on our website, and upon request from any member of our team.
We take our Code of Conduct seriously and expect the same of our employees and volunteers.
Failure to comply
Breaches of our code of conduct will be treated consistently and fairly by the Healthwatch Warwickshire Chair and Board.
Failure to comply with the principles and underlying policies in this document may result in disciplinary action for paid employees which can include termination of employment, or commencing the problem-solving process for volunteers, which can include termination of the volunteer agreement and relationship.
Any personal information provided in connection with this policy will be processed in accordance with data protection principles and will only be processed to ensure that individuals act in the best interests of Healthwatch Warwickshire. The information provided will not be used for any other purpose.
Review of policy document
Conduct issues will be reviewed yearly. The operational subgroup will review the code of conduct policy and its effectiveness.
The Board of Healthwatch Warwickshire will review the effectiveness of the code of conduct policy set out in this document every two years.
Any amendments to this policy governing code of conduct will require a simple majority of board members voting in favour.
The amended policy document will be published on the website of Healthwatch Warwickshire as soon as is practicable.
Code of conduct policy
Author: Claire Jackson, Head of Operations
To be reviewed by: Operational subgroup
Date reviewed: 1st October 2021
Approved by: Board of Healthwatch Warwickshire
Date approved: 9th November 2021
Effective date: 9th November 2021
Review date: 2 years from effective date