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Code of Business Conduct

HRB Code of Business Conduct for the members of the Board and Board Committees

HRB Code of Business Conduct for members of the Board and Board Committees

Introduction

The Department of Finance 'Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies' issued in May 2009 requires all public bodies to have a written Code of Conduct for members of the Board and Board Committees. The following code sets out in written form the agreed standards of principle and practice that should inform the conduct of members of the Board and Board Committees of the HRB in the performance of their duties.

The Health Research Board (HRB) current stated mission is 'To improve people's health, patient care and health service delivery' by:

  • Leading and supporting excellent research by outstanding people within a coherent health research system
  • Generating knowledge and promoting its application in policy and practice; and, in doing so, play a key role in health system innovation and economic development.  

In pursuit of the HRB's mission, the core principles that will consistently shape the HRB's thinking and its approach to everything that it does are:

  • Commitment to a culture of excellence in research and evaluation
  • Leadership of health research through partnership and collaboration
  • Determination to have knowledge translated and applied
  • Commitment to having research at the core of the health system
  • Focus on good governance, high performance and value for money  

The HRB as a public body is committed to the core public sector values of probity and impartiality.

In many cases the decisions as to what is ethical or fair are clear-cut and will be obvious to a reasonable person.  There may be circumstances, however, in which a doubt or ambiguity arises.  This written code of Conduct is designed to assist in those circumstances and as a guide by which individual members of the Board and Board Committees may observe the highest standards of ethical behaviour.   It is not possible to provide for every situation in the code of Conduct.  If there is a doubt about the probity of any particular situation the Chairman must be consulted.

General Principles

Members of the Board and Board Committees should observe to highest standards of honesty and integrity.  To ensure this they should adhere to the following principles: 

Integrity

Members of the Board and Board Committees should

  • Conform to the procedures laid down in the Health Research Board (Establishment) Order 1986 (S.I. NO. 279 of 1986) as amended in relation to conflicts of interest which states

13. (1) Where a member of the Board, the Chief Executive, an employee of the Board, a member of a committee or any other person engaged by the Board has a pecuniary or other beneficial interest in, or material to, any matter which falls to be considered by the Board or a committee of the Board, he or she shall comply with the following requirements:

a) he or she shall disclose to the Board or committee the nature of his or her interest in advance of any consideration of the matter,

b) he or she shall neither influence nor seek to influence a decision in relation to the matter,

c) he or she shall take no part in any consideration of the matter,

d) he or she shall withdraw from the meeting for so long as the matter is being discussed or considered by the Board or committee and shall not vote or otherwise act as a member, Chief Executive or employee in relation to the matter.  

(2) For the purposes of this article, but without prejudice to the generality of sub article (1), a person shall be regarded as having a beneficial interest if:

a) he or she or any member of his or her household, or any nominee of his or her or any member of his or her household, is a member of a company or any other body which has a beneficial interest in, or material to, a matter referred to that sub article,

b) he or she or any member of his or her household is in partnership with or is in the employment of a person who has a beneficial interest in, or material to, such matter,

c) he or she or any member of his or her household is a party to any arrangement or agreement (whether or not enforceable) concerning land to which such a matter relates,

d) any member of his or her household has a beneficial interest in, or material to, such a matter.  

(3) For the purposes of this article a person shall not be regarded as having a beneficial interest in, or material to, any matter by reason only of an interest of his or her or of any company or of any other body or person mentioned in sub article (2) which is so remote or insignificant that it cannot reasonably be regarded as likely to influence a person in considering, discussing or in voting on, any question with respect to the matter, or in performing any function in relation to that matter.  

(4) Where a question arises as to whether or not a course of conduct, if pursued by a person, would be a failure by him or her to comply with the requirements of sub article (1), the question shall be determined by the Chairperson.  

(5) Where a disclosure is made to the Board or committee pursuant to sub article (1), particulars of the disclosure shall be recorded in the minutes of the meeting concerned.  

(6) The Board may adopt additional rules in relation to members, the Chief Executive, staff and members of committees to prevent a conflict of interest in the carrying out of the Board's functions.  

  • Submit annually a declaration in compliance with Standards in Public Office legislation
  • Avoid the giving or receiving of corporate gifts, hospitality, preferential treatment or benefits which might appear to affect the ability of the donor or the recipient to make independent judgement on business transactions
  • Ensure that purchasing activities of goods/services is in accordance with best business practice
  • Support a culture of claiming expenses only as appropriate to business needs and in accordance with good practice in the public sector generally
  • Ensure that the HRB's accounts and annual reports accurately reflect business performance and are not misleading or designed to be misleading
  • Avoid the use of the HRB's resources or time for personal gain, or for the benefit of persons/organisations unconnected with the HRB or its activities
  • Not acquire information or business secrets by improper means.    
Information

Members of the Board and Board Committees should

  • Support the HRB's provision of access to general information relating to the HRB's activities in a way that is open and enhances the HRB's accountability to the general public
  • Respect the confidentiality of sensitive information held by the HRB.  This would constitute material such as
  1. Commercially sensitive information (including but not limited to future plans or details of major organisational or other changes such as restructuring)
  2. Personal information and
  3. Information received in confidence by the HRB
  • Observe appropriate prior consultation procedures with third parties where, exceptionally, it is proposed to release sensitive information in the public interest
  • Comply with relevant statutory provisions relating to access to information (e.g. Data Protection Acts, Freedom of Information Acts
Obligations

Members of the Board and Board Committees should

  • Fulfil all regulatory and statutory obligations imposed on the HRB
  • Comply with detailed tendering and purchasing procedures as well as complying with prescribed levels of authority for sanctioning any relevant expenditure
  • Ensure that there are adequate controls in place to prevent fraud including controls to ensure compliance prescribed procedures in relation to claiming expenses for business travel
  • Use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that they attend the HRB Board and/or Committee meetings (as applicable)
  • Acknowledge the duty of all to conform to the highest standards of business ethics
Loyalty

Members of the Board and Board Committees should

  • Acknowledge the responsibility to be loyal to the HRB and fully committed to all of its business activities while mindful that the HRB itself must at all times take into consideration the interests of the State and of its clients/stakeholders.
Fairness

Members of the Board and Board Committees should

  • Comply with employment equality and equal status legislation
  • Commit to fairness in all business dealings
  • Value clients/stakeholders and treat all clients/stakeholders equally    
Work/External Environment

Members of the Board and Board Committees should

  • Place highest priority on promoting and preserving the health and safety of employees;
  • Ensure that community concerns are fully considered; and
  • Minimise and detrimental impact of the operations on the environment.        
Responsibility

Members of the Board and Board Committees are required to comply with the HRB's statutory requirements for the disclosure of conflicts of interest, HRB purchasing policy, human resources policies, and competition and peer review in research funding procedures.    

Members of the Board and Board Committees must acknowledge, in writing, receipt of the Code of Business Conduct and understanding of same.    

Review

The Board commits to review the Code as appropriate.    

Declaration

I have read and understood the terms of this code of business Conduct for members of the Board and Board Committees of the HRB and I will retain a copy. 

I acknowledge my responsibility to uphold this Code and to abide by these guidelines in any dealings for or on behalf of the HRB.

Signed: (by the relevant Board member)

Date:

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