8 Code of Conduct Examples: A Workplace Guide

By Indeed Editorial Team

26 July 2021

Businesses need a code of conduct to maintain and encourage appropriate behaviour in the workplace. A code of conduct is an important document employers utilise to establish behavioural standards for all employees. Understanding how and why a code of conduct is used by both employers and employees can help you manage your success while at work. In this article, we explain the purpose of a code of conduct, outline the policies and standards addressed in a code of conduct and provide specific code of conduct examples that organisations can use to share their behaviour expectations with employees.

What is a code of conduct?

A code of conduct is a set of rules and standards set by a company that instruct employees on how to behave in the workplace. These guides establish how employers expect team members to interact with clients, fellow staff members and company leadership. Under a code of conduct, all employees are held to the same standard of behaviour regardless of their position within the company. These rules must be made available to every staff member through the human resources department or an employee handbook which team members can typically accessible digitally.

Companies use a code of conduct to provide guidelines for the following behaviours:

  • Attendance

  • Employee behaviour

  • Company values

  • Technology use

  • Communication

  • Leave policies

  • Break and mealtime policies

  • Confidentiality

  • Drug use or intoxication

  • Use of company property

  • Conflicts of interest

  • Plagiarism

  • Travel policies

  • Interaction with clients

  • Dress code

  • Authority in the workplace

  • Public holidays

  • Harassment

  • Bullying

  • Discrimination

  • Reporting misconduct

Related: The Ultimate Guide To Professionalism

Why is a code of conduct important?

A code of conduct provides guidelines to help all company employees make good decisions about how to interact with fellow staff members, customers and leaders. Here are some of the main reasons why a code of conduct is important for a business:

  • Address legal considerations: A code of conduct helps fulfil the legal responsibilities of a business by addressing items that may become a liability within the workplace. Codes of conduct help ensure that businesses and their employees comply with local and national government regulations.

  • Express company values: Codes of conduct help clarify the core values and beliefs of an organisation. They allow employers to create a work environment founded on the guiding principles they want employees to show each day at work.

  • Guide employee behaviour: A code of conduct functions to provide each employee with guidelines for appropriate actions and words within the workplace environment. When employees understand a company's standards, they are more likely to model exemplary behaviour at work.

  • Measure employee success: A code of conduct can act as a means to measure performance. Employers can encourage and reward employees who successfully exhibit the traits of proper conduct.

  • Correct unwanted behaviours: Codes of conduct help establish a basis for discussion and recourse if necessary to correct any undesired employee behaviours. Since they present an unbiased tool for addressing words and actions, codes of conduct provide a neutral way to begin discussions with an employee showing unwanted behaviour.

Related: Self-Discipline: Definition and Tips For Development

What should a code of conduct include?

A code of conduct should include the following elements:

Introduction

Begin a code of conduct with an opening statement reinforcing the idea that these policies guide all employees. Encourage employees to carefully read each policy and ask their supervisor or human resource representative if they have any questions. It may be helpful to include a table of contents listing each specific policy so employees can quickly find a topic as needed.

Related: What Is Organisational Culture?

Company policies

Each company policy should be clearly outlined in a code of conduct. Use subsections to provide details for any specific policy needing additional clarification. Consider general policies like attendance and professional behaviours, then add any items specific to your company or industry such as equipment use or client privacy standards. The policy section will take up the bulk of your code of conduct.

Related: The First 90 Days and How To Succeed in Your New Job

How misconduct is addressed

A code of conduct should also include the disciplinary actions taken when an employee does not meet the company standards. This section should address the steps taken to address a problem including any warnings, either written or verbal. It should also clearly define how misconduct may lead to termination, including behaviours that are cause for immediate disciplinary action or termination.

How to report or share concerns

Another important part to include in a code of conduct is a section explaining how employees can address any behaviours directed toward them at the workplace that cause them to feel uncomfortable or threatened. Direct employees to contact the appropriate human resource professional within your organisation. Outline any documentation employees can complete to report incidents they feel constitute misconduct toward themselves or another employee.

Code of conduct examples

Here are some examples to help you create a code of conduct:

Example 1: Attendance policy

'We require employees to follow their assigned work schedules based on their work status as determined by a contract of employment or based on decisions made by supervising staff members. Employees should arrive at work at the correct time and maintain a consistent work schedule. Employees must communicate when they will not be at work due to illness or emergency situations. Communication is key to maintaining an honest work environment where employees notify leadership of their situation when they cannot report to work.'

Example 2: Employee dress code

'While our office environment maintains a professional but casual atmosphere, we expect employees to take care in presenting a neat and clean appearance while at work. Appropriate professional attire includes tops, sweaters, jackets, slacks, skirts, dresses and jeans free from rips and holes, inappropriate messaging and improper coverage of the body. Jewellery and accessories should allow employees to complete their normal activities without distracting or hindering themselves or others. Business casual or business formal dress may become necessary for some occasions. See our code of conduct section outlining acceptable attire for both situations.'

Example 3: Technology use

'Our company provides computer hardware and software equipment for all employees. While using this equipment to perform daily job duties, it is the employee's responsibility to take due care and caution to maintain the technological tools assigned to you and to use these tools in a manner appropriate for work. This includes portable devices like laptop computers that employees may transport in and out of the office.

Regarding personal technology, employees may use personal devices for the duration of break and mealtimes. During work hours, employees may use personal mobile phones with discretion for short amounts of time. Employees may post on social media during break periods while at work. If posting about the company or work-related situations, employees should use respectful language and share that their opinions do not represent the company.'

Example 4: Leave policy

'We provide each employee with fifteen days of paid leave. This includes sick and holiday time. To activate paid leave, please notify your supervisor. Sick leave can be requested immediately once symptoms prevent you from working. After three consecutive days of sick leave, employees must provide documentation from a medical professional to continue receiving paid sick leave. For extended time off for holidays, employees should fill out a request form to be approved by their supervisor.

We also offer paid leave for maternity, paternity, bereavement, fostering and adoption. See our subsections below for guidance on specific policies regarding each situation.'

Example 5: Conflict of interest

'Although we encourage employees to explore talents and business opportunities beyond their role within our company, certain practices could result in a conflict of interest between confidential business practices and or competing efforts between the employer and employee. This includes personal actions that can affect the company in a negative way such as loss of revenue, customers or company ideas.

Conflicts of interest also occur when outside opportunities influence the way an employee performs their job responsibilities. If you are unsure whether a personal venture would constitute a conflict of interest, schedule a time to discuss the situation with your supervisor and explain the situation.'

Example 6: Public holidays

'Throughout the year, we provide paid leave for nationally observed public holidays. Human resources will provide a yearly guide defining the days that we observe as public holidays, with reminders throughout the year as we approach a scheduled day off. On these days, the office will be closed and normal company operations will be suspended until employees return to work on the next regularly scheduled workday. If employees choose to complete work on a public holiday, it is voluntary and not required or expected.'

Example 7: Confidentiality

'Because our organisation stores, analyses and processes sensitive information regarding our customers, it is our responsibility to maintain the privacy of our clients. All employees are expected to maintain the confidentiality of our records and business practices to ensure the safety of all parties involved. Confidential records should be accessed and share solely for work purposes with the appropriate recipients.'

Example 8: Break and mealtime policies

'Employees working for eight hours a day receive a 30-minute paid meal break and two 15-minute breaks that can be taken in intervals throughout the day. Employees have the option to extend their meal break to an additional unpaid 30 minutes after clocking out. You may stay on the property to eat during mealtimes or leave to purchase food. However, any travel time to a restaurant is counted as part of your mealtime. If you are in a situation where coverage is needed for certain job responsibilities to customers or other employees, please communicate with fellow staff members to coordinate and vary mealtimes.'