Board declarations of interest and conflict resolution policy
Guidance on recognising and disclosing activities that might give rise to conflicts of interest or the perception of conflicts.
Board declarations of interest and conflict resolution policy
Last reviewed: August 2019
- Why do we need this policy?
- Who needs to follow this policy and why?
- What’s our policy and how will we implement it?
- Roles and responsibilities
- Related policies, procedures and information sources
- Data protection, equality and diversity
Why do we need this policy?
The declaration of interest and resolution of conflicts policy for Social Work England board members provides guidance on recognising and disclosing activities that might give rise to conflicts of interest or the perception of conflicts and ensures that any such conflicts are properly managed or avoided.
Who needs to follow this policy and why?
This policy applies to all Social Work England board members.
What’s our policy and how will we implement it?
We place great importance on ensuring our Board members demonstrate the highest standards of conduct. Board members must always demonstrate high standards of professional conduct, impartiality, honesty and integrity.
All board members are required to identify and disclose activities and relationships that might give rise to conflicts of interest or the perception of conflicts and to ensure that such conflicts are properly managed or avoided.
If properly managed, a board member’s activities can proceed as normal whilst at the same time upholding the person's obligations to Social Work England and protecting the integrity and reputation of the organisation.
However, if conflicts are not reported or managed effectively it may jeopardise public confidence in Social Work England and cause serious damage to the credibility of the organisation and of the individual(s) concerned.
Our values also reflect our statutory public sector equality duty. This requires us to, in carrying out our functions, have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination; to advance equality of opportunity between different groups; and to foster good relations between different groups. Therefore, board members must behave in a manner which is compatible with our values.
Conflicts of Interest
A conflict of interest can arise where the commitments and obligations owed by a board member to us are compromised or may appear to be compromised. This may include:
- A board member who has competing interests or loyalties that are, or could potentially be, at odds with each other.
- A board member’s private affairs or financial interests (or those of a person with whom the person has a close personal relationship) are in conflict or could result in a perception of conflict with those of Social Work England.
- A board member’s actions that could give rise to an appearance of bias or favouritism towards another person within or outside Social Work England or an external agency.
There can be situations in which the appearance of conflict of interest is present even when no conflict exists. It is important for all Board members, when evaluating a potential conflict of interest, to consider how it might be perceived by others.
Financial Conflicts of Interest
A financial conflict of interest, for the purposes of this policy, is one where there is or appears to be opportunity for personal financial gain, financial gain to immediate family (or a person with whom the person has a close personal relationship), or where it might be reasonable for another party to take the view that financial benefits might affect that person's actions. Financial interest means anything of monetary value, for example:
- payments for services
- equity interests (such as stocks, stock options or other ownership interests) and/or
- intellectual property rights (such as patents, copyrights and royalties from such rights).
Non-Financial Conflicts of Interest
Non-financial interests may come into conflict, or be perceived to come into conflict, with a person's obligations or commitments to us. Non-financial interest may include any benefit or advantage, including, but not limited to, direct or indirect enhancement of an individual's career or gain to immediate family (or a person with whom the person has a close personal relationship).
Guidance on managing conflicts of interest
All Social Work England Board members will be required to submit and update their declaration of interests annually. Some guidance on the type of information which Board members should consider declaring as potential conflicts of interest is set out below.
It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and it is impossible to list every potential situation or circumstance that could give rise to a conflict of interests. Therefore, board members should use their judgement to decide whether any of their interests should be disclosed.
- Directorships and committee appointments: Both paid and unpaid directorships (including non-executive directors or senior employees) of any public or private company or other body, together with any roles or positions with other committees.
- Other remunerated work: Any paid employment or other sources of income outside their normal work. Examples might be paid consultancy or advisory positions with government departments or private companies.
- Gifts, benefits and hospitality: This includes any substantial gift or material advantage received by a member, which in any way relates to his/her role as a Social Work England board member. For further guidance on this, please refer to the gifts and hospitality policy.
- Shareholdings or other positions: Declaration of the name of any public or private company (including any not-for-profit), business, partnership or consultancy activities in the field of social care or certain other sectors where a conflict of interest might arise (such as healthcare) in which the board member holds significant shareholdings, interests or control.
- Indirect social/business relationships and family interests: These would include any close association with an individual who has a financial interest, a non-financial professional interest or a non-financial personal interest (and any other interests) of close family members/friends/business partners that might be considered relevant to an individual’s position as a Social Work England board member.
- Potential conflicts arising from the possession of confidential information.
- Miscellaneous and unremunerated interests: This includes other interests which do not fall clearly within any of the above categories, for example, membership of, or work for, other bodies such as charities, which could possibly influence a board member’s position.
At each board meeting and sub-committee meetings (such as audit and risk committee and renumeration committee) a copy of all declared interests of board members will be made available.
The Chair will ask whether there are any new interests to be added or any potential conflicts of interest specific to the issues being considered at the meeting. This is to confirm, and to potentially add to, the interests that have already been identified before the meeting.
Declarations of interest and actions arising from any declarations will be formally recorded within all Board meeting and sub-committee (such as audit and risk committee and renumeration committee) minutes.
A written record of all disclosures will also be maintained by the secretariat of the Social Work England board. This will be available on request and reviewed at every board meeting.
It is the responsibility of each board member to inform the chair as soon as possible if a conflict arises, or if a conflict might be perceived. If a Board member has an actual or potential conflict of interest, the Chair will consider the following approaches and ensure that the reason for the chosen action is documented in minutes and/or records:
- requiring the board member not to attend the meeting and potentially excluding the member from receiving meeting papers relating to their interest
- excluding the board member from all or part of the relevant discussion and decision or
- noting the nature and extent of the potential conflict of interest but judging it is appropriate to allow the board member to remain and participate.
If this policy isn’t followed, the most appropriate course of action will be agreed between the policy owner and the HR manager, dependent on the circumstances.
Roles and responsibilities
4.1 Board members (as individuals)
- On appointment to the Social Work England board, every board member must make a written disclosure of activities that might give rise to conflicts of interest or the perception of conflicts.
- It is the responsibility of each board member to recognise situations in which he or she has a conflict of interest or might reasonably be seen by others to have a conflict, to disclose that conflict and to take such further steps as set out in this policy.
- If in doubt the board member should declare the activity or relationship in the interests of transparency.
Related policies, procedures and information sources
Data protection, equality and diversity
A data protection impact assessment (DPIA) and equality impact assessment (EIA) have been completed for this policy.
If you have a query about this policy, please contact Alison Edbury, governance manager.
8.1 Conflict of interest
A ‘set of circumstances that creates a risk that an individual’s ability to apply objective judgement or act in one role is, or could be, impaired or influenced by a secondary interest.’ (National Audit Office “Conflicts of interest”, 27 January 2015).
Last reviewed: August 2019
Policy owner: Tracy Watterson, Assistant Director – People and Business Support
Policy reference: POL_BOA_004
If you require a PDF version of this policy, please contact us.