Codes of Ethics


Course Description

E35. Codes of Ethics,  3 CE hours, $21

Description:  One way to approach the study of ethics is through codes of ethics. Codes of ethics are usually carefully prepared documents that give guidance to a specific population on how to deal with ethical issues.

Objectives: After completing this course, participants will be able to 1. analyse various codes of ethics, 2. write a simple code of ethics and 3. evaluate codes of ethics.


Codes of Ethics


1. Ethical Questions College Students Face

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University gathered 130 stories from students in regards to ethical questions they faced in college. From these, they identified the top 10 ethical questions for students.

  1. Do my parents belong at college?
  2. Should I take study drugs?
  3. What about cheating?
  4. How do I deal with difficult roommates?
  5. Do I rush a fraternity/sorority?
  6. How much can I disagree with my professor?
  7. Shall I call the EMT?
  8. What do I post on Facebook?
  9. Do I have sex?
  10. How do I treat people who work for me?


You must select your code of ethics. Is that everything goes? Or are you a Christian and try to follow the Bible, where the following are no’s: 2,3,9, and the others depend on doing what a love-situation demands.




Any person in Government service should: 

1. Put loyalty to the highest moral principals and to country above loyalty to Government persons, party, or department.

2. Uphold the Constitution, laws, and legal regulations of the United States and of all governments therein and never be a party to their evasion.

3. Give a full day’s labor for a full day’s pay; giving to the performance of his duties his earnest effort and best thought.

4. Seek to find and employ more efficient and economical ways of getting tasks accomplished.

5. Never discriminate unfairly by the dispensing of special favors or privileges to anyone, whether for remuneration or not; and never accept for himself or his family, favors or benefits under circumstances which might be construed by reasonable persons as influencing the performance of his governmental duties.

6. Make no private promises of any kind binding upon the duties of office, since a Government employee has no private word which can be binding on public duty.

7. Engage in no business with the Government, either directly or indirectly which is inconsistent with the conscientious performance of his governmental duties.

8. Never use any information coming to him confidentially in the performance of governmental duties as a means for making private profit.

9. Expose corruption wherever discovered.

10. Uphold these principles, ever conscious that public office is a public trust.


3. Government Ethics

3.1 Government-Wide Ethics Laws

From US Department of the Interior, Departmental Ethics Office:

These laws apply to all Federal employees and each carry criminal penalties for noncompliance.  They also serve as a basis for the ethics regulations known as the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch, 5 C.F.R. Part 2635.

Bribery Of Public Officials Prohibited – 18 U.S.C. § 201

This statute prohibits a Government employee from directly or indirectly receiving or soliciting anything of value in exchange for being influenced in the performance or nonperformance of any official act, including giving testimony, or in exchange for committing fraud.

Restrictions on Compensated Representational Activities – 18 U.S.C. § 203

This statute prohibits a Government employee from seeking or accepting compensation for representational services (rendered either personally or by another) before a Federal court or Government agency in a particular matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct or substantial interest.  Representational services include any communications on behalf of another party with the intent to influence the Government.  There are limited exceptions, such as for representing oneself or one’s immediate family or a person or estate for which the employee acts as a fiduciary, but not where the employee has participated officially or has official responsibility.

Restrictions on Acting as an Agent or Attorney – 18 U.S.C. § 205

This statute prohibits a Government employee from acting as an agent or attorney for anyone before a Federal court or Government agency, whether compensated or not.  There are limited exceptions, such as for representing other Federal employees in personnel matters; representing a not-for-profit organization in certain matters, if a majority of its members are current Federal employees or their spouses or dependent children; representing oneself or one’s immediate family or a person or estate for which the employee acts as a fiduciary, but not where the employee has participated officially or has official responsibility; or acting as an agent or attorney, in certain matters, for a tribal organization or intertribal consortium to which the employee is assigned under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act or 25 U.S.C. § 48, after advising the Government in writing of any personal and substantial involvement the employee has had in connection with the matter.

Post-Government Employment Restriction – 18 U.S.C. § 207

This statute does not bar an individual, regardless of rank or position, from accepting employment with any private or public employer.  It does impose restrictions on certain communications that a former employee may make as a representative of a third party back to the Federal Government.  These restrictions are explained more fully in the “Restrictions on Post-Government Employment” section of this website.

Conflicts of Interest – 18 U.S.C. § 208

This statute prohibits a Government employee from participating personally and substantially, on behalf of the Federal Government, in any particular matter in which he or she has a financial interest.  In addition, the statute provides that the financial interests of certain other “persons” are imputed to the employee (that is, the interests are the same as if they were the employee’s interests).  These other persons include the employee’s spouse, minor child, general partner, an organization in which he or she serves as an officer, trustee, partner or employee, and any person or organization with whom the employee is negotiating or has an arrangement concerning future employment.  There are limited regulatory exemptions authorized by the Office of Government Ethics, an exception for certain financial interests arising solely out of Native American birthrights, and a very limited waiver authority.

Supplementation of Federal Salary Prohibited – 18 U.S.C. § 209

This statute prohibits a Government employee from receiving any salary, or any contribution to or supplementation of salary; or anything of value from a non-federal entity as compensation for services he or she is expected to perform as a Government employee.

Impartiality in Performing Official Duties – 5 C.F.R. § 2635.502

You must take appropriate steps to avoid any appearance of loss of impartiality in the performance of your official duties.  Beyond the conflict of interest law discussed at 18 U.S.C. § 207, ethics regulations require all employees to recuse themselves from participating in an official matter if their impartiality would be questioned.  The regulations identify three circumstances where employees should carefully consider whether their impartiality is subject to question:  1) where the financial interests of a member of the employee’s household would be impacted; 2) if a party or party representative in an official matter has a “covered relationship” with the employee; and 3) any other time the employee believes his or her impartiality may be subject to question.  The term “covered relationship” includes a wide variety of personal and business relationships that an employee or his family members may have with outside parties.  Employees who find that a party or representative of a party is a person with whom the employee or a family member has a personal or outside-of-work/unofficial business relationship should consult with their ethics counselor before taking official action in a particular matter.

Source: Government Ethics.


3.2 What are the ethical issues surrounding gene therapy?

Because gene therapy involves making changes to the body’s set of basic instructions, it raises many unique ethical concerns. The ethical questions surrounding gene therapy include:

  • How can “good” and “bad” uses of gene therapy be distinguished?
  • Who decides which traits are normal and which constitute a disability or disorder?
  • Will the high costs of gene therapy make it available only to the wealthy?
  • Could the widespread use of gene therapy make society less accepting of people who are different?
  • Should people be allowed to use gene therapy to enhance basic human traits such as height, intelligence, or athletic ability?
  • The National Cancer Institute fact sheet Gene Therapy for Cancer: Questions and AnswersThis link leads to a site outside Genetics Home Reference. offers information on this topic. Refer to Question 11, “What are some of the social and ethical issues surrounding human gene therapy?” and Question 12, “What is being done to address these social and ethical issues?”

Current gene therapy research has focused on treating individuals by targeting the therapy to body cells such as bone marrow or blood cells. This type of gene therapy cannot be passed on to a person’s children. Gene therapy could be targeted to egg and sperm cells (germ cells), however, which would allow the inserted gene to be passed on to future generations. This approach is known as germline gene therapy.

The idea of germline gene therapy is controversial. While it could spare future generations in a family from having a particular genetic disorder, it might affect the development of a fetus in unexpected ways or have long-term side effects that are not yet known. Because people who would be affected by germline gene therapy are not yet born, they can’t choose whether to have the treatment. Because of these ethical concerns, the U.S. Government does not allow federal funds to be used for research on germline gene therapy in people.


4. Writing a Code of Conduct

Read the following excerpted article from the Queensland, Australia, Government Business and Industry Portal:

Staff Code of Conduct
Writing a Code of Conduct

In this guide:

  1. Staff code of conduct
  2. Writing a code of conduct
  3. Implementing a code of conduct
  4. Reviewing a code of conduct

As a business owner, you will have certain expectations of how your staff should behave. Having a written code of conduct is important, as it provides clear instructions about what your staff can and can’t do.

What a code of conduct should include

The most common sections to include in a code of conduct are:

  • ethical principles – includes workplace behaviour and respect for all people
  • values – includes an honest, unbiased and unprejudiced work environment
  • accountability – includes taking responsibility for your own actions, ensuring appropriate use of information, exercising diligence and duty of care obligations and avoiding conflicts of interest
  • standard of conduct – includes complying with the job description, commitment to the organisation and proper computer, internet and email usage
  • standard of practice – includes current policies and procedures and business operational manual
  • disciplinary actions – includes complaints handling and specific penalties for any violation of the code.

You can customise the different sections in your code of conduct to match your business requirements and the rules and policies you set for your staff. Search the internet for samples and templates or use another organisation’s code of conduct as a guide.

Getting staff input

When writing your code of conduct, you should consult your staff and stakeholders for their input. Consider how you will include their input in your document. Questions you might like to ask staff include:

  • What does ethics mean to you?
  • How effectively does the business put its values into practice?
  • Can we improve our ethical performance?
  • What do you think of the draft ethical guidelines?
  • Would this code of conduct help you make decisions?
  • How could it be more helpful?
  • Is there anything else we should include?

Tips for writing a code of conduct

  • Use simple, clear language that all employees can understand.
  • Use examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour to clarify points.
  • Get someone else to read the document before finalising it. A friend or family member can help, but a professional proofreader would be best.

Related links

Last updated 02 July 2013



5. Implementing a Code of Conduct

Continued from the Queensland, Australia, Government Business and Industry Portal:

Staff Code of Conduct
Implementing a Code of Conduct

In this guide:

  1. Staff code of conduct
  2. Writing a code of conduct
  3. Implementing a code of conduct
  4. Reviewing a code of conduct

Implementing a code of conduct in the workplace involves communicating the policies and guidelines to all staff and providing any necessary training to ensure they understand the code. The code should be practised and promoted by management to lead the way for staff.

Before you implement your code of conduct, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which method will you use to implement the code?
  • How and when will you publicise the code, both inside and outside of your business?
  • What do you need to do so the values in your code are reflected in all relevant business policies and practices?

Methods of delivering the code

Induction package

Induction training is a chance for employers and new employees to review and understand expectations and requirements. Along with a code of conduct, the induction package may include a training manual, mission statement, workplace health and safety information or any other information that you wish to deliver to new employees.

One-on-one training

A business representative – such as the owner, manager, supervisor, HR staff member or trainer – could work through the code of conduct and other requirements and expectations with existing employees.

Online training course

Codes of conduct can be delivered online in a format that allows staff to work through topics at their own pace (although a deadline should be set to ensure it is done in a timely manner). After completing the course, staff should be able to print a competency certificate as proof that they understand the code.

Company intranet

Providing the code of conduct on the company intranet allows all staff to access it when they need to.

Employee handbook

A printed version of your employee handbook left in a communal area such as a staff room will provide staff easy access to the code of conduct when required.


A summary version of the full code of conduct can act as a reminder to staff. Different parts of the code can be highlighted in different parts of your office – for example, you can put up signs in kitchens about cleanliness and respect for others.

Understanding the code

Get feedback from your staff to ensure that they understand the code of conduct and what is expected of them. If they don’t fully understand some areas, provide appropriate training. For example:

  • physically show them designated smoking areas
  • give examples of websites that are inappropriate
  • role-play a difficult phone call or sale and demonstrate how it should be handled.

Accepting the code

Ask staff to sign a document to say that they agree to abide by the code of conduct. This canminimise conflict if an employee violates the code and you need to take disciplinary action.

6. Review in-depth some of the following sites



TEST 6894

TEST 6894 in E35 in CODES of  ETHICS for 3 CE hours course accredited by the California Board of Registered Nursing, PCE 16144:  Click here to take the 10-item test online and make payment, and to print your certificate.

Leave a Reply