Policy

Conflict of Interest - Policy

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1.0   Purpose and Scope

1.1   Purpose

The University of Queensland’s (UQ or the University) framework for managing conflict of interest seeks to protect the University and its employees from the risks associated with actual, perceived and potential conflicts of interest. The framework has three key pillars: (1) education and awareness; (2) self‑assessment and disclosure; and (3) management of conflicts.

Conflicts of interest are a normal part of employment relations in a large complex organisation like the University. What is important is how conflicts are efficiently and effectively disclosed and appropriately managed.

A conflict of interest involves:

  • A perceived conflict where it could reasonably be perceived, or give the appearance, that a competing interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party, could improperly influence the performance of a staff member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.
  • A potential conflict of interest where a staff member has an interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party, that could conflict with the staff member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.
  • An actual conflict where a staff member has a competing interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party, that directly conflicts with the staff member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.

This policy is consistent with principles of the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 and The University of Queensland Code of Conduct, which require staff to acknowledge the primacy of the public interest and ensure that any conflict of interest is avoided, or resolved or appropriately managed.

1.2   Scope

This policy applies to all University staff (including contractors) and members of UQ Senate. Where conflicts of interest are identified, they must be disclosed and manage appropriately in accordance with this policy and:

  1. for UQ staff – the Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff Procedure and the Commercialisation Conflicts of Interest Procedure; and/or
  2. for members of UQ Senate – the Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for Members of Senate Procedure.

2.0   Principles and Key Requirements

2.1   Principles

Accountability, honesty and common sense are central to the good management of conflicts of interest. Without limiting the obligations set out in this policy, University staff must:

  1. Restrict the extent to which a private interest could compromise, or be seen to compromise, their impartiality when carrying out their official duties.
  2. Refrain from involvement in official decisions and actions which could be compromised by other private interests and affiliations.
  3. Avoid personal activities or undertakings which could, or could be seen to, provide an improper advantage through the use of confidential or privileged UQ information.
  4. Refrain from using their official position or University resources for private personal gain or gain by others with whom the staff member has a relationship or personal association.
  5. Ensure that there can be no perception that they have received an improper benefit that may influence the performance of their official duties.
  6. Refrain from taking improper advantage of their official position or confidential/privileged information gained in that position when seeking employment outside the University, or provide such advantage to others with whom they have an association.

2.2   Types of conflict

University staff and contractors must be aware of the different types of conflicts of interest and regularly self‑assess their circumstances, and disclose and appropriately manage any conflict of interest in accordance with this policy and the associated procedures.

Conflicts of interest include, but are not limited to, the examples outlined below.

Private interests

Conflicts of interest can arise from a University staff member avoiding personal losses or gaining personal advantage by virtue of their role or access to University information that is not available to others. A private interest may be financial or non‑financial, and may include business interests in a company tendering for paid work from the University.

Personal relationships

University staff must carry out their official duties with integrity and avoid conflicts of interest between their personal relationships and their University responsibilities. Personal relationships may include:

  • Family and close personal relationships – staff must not be involved in decisions affecting the employment or academic administration or teaching of a person with whom they have a family or close personal relationship. These relationships may include spouse, children, siblings or cousins, relations by marriage, close relatives, close friendships or sexual relationships.
  • Financial relationships – staff must not be involved in decisions affecting the employment or academic administration of a person with whom they have a commercial relationship or where a personal financial interest exists.

Personal benefits

A conflict of interest may occur where a University staff member receives a gift or benefit that is, or may be perceived as, influencing the performance of their official duties. The University’s Reportable Gifts and Benefits Policy requires staff to disclose their receipt of certain gifts.

Researchers

Researchers have additional responsibilities under the University’s Responsible Conduct of Research Policy, which requires researchers to disclose and manage actual, potential, and perceived conflicts of interest which may relate to the design, conduct or reporting of research.

Commercialisation or financial conflicts of interest

The University recognises financial conflicts of interest may arise as staff commercialise their research or teaching resources into products and services. A financial conflict of interest occurs when the primary interest of a University staff member, in maintaining and promoting the University‘s vision, mission and values, is put at risk through the potential conflict of a significant financial interest.

2.3   Disclosing and managing a conflict of interest

2.3.1   Members of Senate

Conflicts of Interest relating to members of Senate will be disclosed and managed in accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for Members of Senate Procedure.

2.3.2   University staff

All conflicts of interest must be disclosed and managed transparently between relevant parties and should align with a conflict of interest management plan. Strategies available to manage conflicts of interest include:

Register

Disclose and establish the details of the conflict

Restrict

Restrict the staff member’s involvement or actions in the matter

Recruit

A disinterested third party should oversee processes involved in the matter 

Remove

The individual may remove themselves from their involvement in the matter

Relinquish

The individual and/or their related parties may relinquish the private interest

Resign

The individual’s resignation is an option of last resort if no other options are workable

3.0   Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

3.1   Members of Senate

Under the University of Queensland Act 1998, members of Senate are responsible and accountable to Senate. Members of Senate are required to disclose and avoid conflicts of interest in accordance with the Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for Members of Senate Procedure.

3.2   University staff

Staff must comply with this policy and associated procedures.

Staff are required to:

  • complete mandatory training and undertake regular self-assessment;
  • disclose or update any conflict of interest involving themselves, and suggest an appropriate management plan;
  • work with their Supervisor to refine a management plan they have submitted; and  
  • alert supervisors to conflicts of interest held by other staff where they have reasonable belief the conflict of interest has not previously been disclosed.

3.3   Supervisors

As defined in section 4.2 of the Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff Procedure.

3.4   Integrity and Investigations Unit

The Integrity and Investigations Unit is responsible for:

  • administering conflict of interest training;
  • maintaining the staff self‑assessment tool;
  • investigating breaches of this policy and the University Code of Conduct in relation to conflicts of interest, where appropriate and in accordance with complaints management practices.

The Integrity and Investigations Unit will also maintain records of all conflict of interest matters it investigates, including outcomes and any external referrals that have been made. Where necessary, breaches of this policy can be referred to the Human Resources Division or the Office of Research Integrity for action as appropriate. 

4.0   Monitoring, Review and Assurance

4.1   Compliance

Failure to comply with this policy and associated procedures will constitute a breach of the University’s Code of Conduct and may be dealt with as misconduct or serious misconduct in accordance with The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement.

A member of the University Senate who fails to disclose a conflict of interest in the exercise of their functions may be removed from office under provisions of the University of Queensland Act 1998.

The University has a legislative obligation to report breaches of this policy, where necessary, to external agencies including the Queensland Audit Office and the Crime and Corruption Commission.

4.2   Monitoring

The University, through the Provost and Chief Human Resources Officer, will periodically review this policy and its procedures for their effectiveness.

5.0   Recording and Reporting

5.1   Conflict of interest register

5.1.1   Members of Senate

The Senate Secretary is responsible for maintaining a confidential register of interests for members of Senate.

5.1.2   University Staff

A University conflict of interest register must be established and maintained in accordance with the Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff Procedure.

6.0   Appendix

6.1   Definitions, terms and acronyms

Academic administration (including research administration): means any administrative aspect of a student’s enrolment in a program at the University including admission, enrolment and assessment.

University staff: means all officers and employees of the University, persons acting in an honorary or voluntary capacity for or at the University, and Members of the University Senate. For the purposes of this policy, this definition also includes contractors undertaking work for or on behalf of the University.

Supervisor: refer to section 3.2 of this policy, or for Members of the University Senate, the Chancellor or Deputy-Chancellor or a person elected to preside over a Senate meeting under section 27(2) of the University of Queensland Act 1998.

Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne

Procedures

Commercialisation Conflicts of Interest - Procedures

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1.0   Purpose and Scope

1.1   Purpose

This procedure supports The University of Queensland’s (UQ or the University) Conflict of Interest Policy and outlines the processes for identifying, disclosing and managing commercialisation financial conflicts of interest (FCOIs) that may arise as UQ staff seek to commercialise their research.

1.2   Scope

A commercialisation FCOI occurs when the potential influence of a significant financial interest – that has arisen through the commercialising of UQ Intellectual Property (IP) a staff member has developed – puts at risk the primary interest of a staff member in maintaining and promoting UQ’s core values and mission.

This procedure applies to all UQ staff (including contractors) that have developed IP and have, or intend to have, a significant financial interest in the external entity that is commercialising the IP.

This procedure does not apply to members of Senate. The Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for Members of Senate Procedure provides the process for members of Senate to disclose and manage a conflict of interest.

2.0   Process and Key Controls

  1. All staff must assess their private and personal interests and identify whether those interests may conflict with their official UQ duties and responsibilities.
  2. All staff are required to disclose their FCOI and suggest management plans for approval using the online disclosure tool.
  3. Senior Leaders as defined in the Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff Procedure have the option through the online disclosure tool of seeking advice from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) on how best to manage a commercialisation FCOI that has been disclosed by a staff member.
  4. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) would generally refer such a request to the Commercialisation Pathways Advisory Group to consider which management options may be applicable in a given circumstance.

3.0   Principles and Key Requirements

3.1   Commercialisation Financial Conflicts of Interest

  • A staff member is not permitted to make a personal financial gain from the use of UQ research, or assisting outside organisations by providing exclusive access to UQ IP, without following UQ policy and procedures for the commercialisation of UQ IP.
  • As part of a sponsored research project or other UQ research activity, a staff member must not enter into a contract with an outside entity in which they, or a related person, hold a significant financial interest either directly or through another related outside entity. Deviation from this principle must not occur without prior approval from the Vice-Chancellor.
  • A staff member must not assign a student, trainee or postdoctoral fellow to a research project that would benefit an entity, in which they or a related person, hold a significant financial interest directly or through another related outside entity, or in which a fiduciary / governance / management role is held. Deviation from this principle must not occur without prior approval from the Vice-Chancellor.
  • A staff member must not hold a paid or unpaid fiduciary / governance / management role in an outside entity that has a commercial interest in UQ IP generated by or under the supervision of the staff member in question. Deviation from this principle must not occur without prior approval from the Vice-Chancellor.

3.2   Management of commercial FCOIs

A number of options are available to manage FCOIs through an approved management plan as outlined in section 2.3 of the Conflict of Interest Policy. The successful implementation of a management plan for a commercialisation FCOI is dependent on determining when the FCOI becomes manageable in this hierarchy of options. The general suitability of the options for managing a commercialisation FCOI is given below.

Option 1: Register – disclose and establish the details of the conflict.

  • All FCOIs need to be registered through a full disclosure of interests.
  • After registering the conflict, a management plan must be proposed and discussed with a supervisor.

Option 2: Restrict – restrict the staff member’s involvement or actions in the matter.

  • Suitable for infrequent conflicts or if staff member can be separated from UQ activity that forms part of the FCOI.
  • Not suitable for frequent or on-going conflicts or if regular duties could not be performed.

Option 3: Recruit – disinterested third party should oversee all of the processes involved in the matter.

  • Suitable where proactive management by others can remove the opportunity that a minor private benefit could accrue to the individual.
  • Not suitable if the FCOI is serious and on-going, rendering the ad-hoc recruitment of others unworkable. The technical nature of much research, and the retrospective nature of reporting to an oversight committee, will often make it impractical for such a committee to effectively determine if an overlap in interests between UQ and an outside entity has occurred, or to direct work away from an area of contention.

Option 4: Remove – The staff member may remove themselves from their involvement in the matter.

  • Suitable if removal from all duties associated with the conflict is possible. As a consequence of the undirected nature of research within the UQ environment, removal of the FCOI in this context requires the individual to cease working with the outside entity. The staff member continues to independently work in their research area.
  • Not suitable if any association through further research is to be maintained between the staff member and the outside entity.

Option 5: Relinquish – the staff member and/or their related parties relinquish the private interest.

  • Suitable if the staff member and/or related parties agree to divest all associated secondary interests that generate the opportunity/perception that a private benefit could accrue to the staff member.
  • Not suitable if the staff member and/or related parties are unable or unwilling to divest their private interests in the outside entity.

Option 6: Resign.

  • Resignation may be the only principled course of action to resolve the FCOI if relinquishment is not possible, and a serious FCOI remains.
  • An option of last resort if no other options are workable.

If an appropriate option from those listed above cannot be agreed upon, or if the staff member does not resign, the resulting unresolved serious FCOI would result in the staff member being in breach of UQ’s Code of Conduct. Such a breach may amount to misconduct or serious misconduct and may be dealt with in accordance with The University of Queensland Enterprise Agreement.

4.0   Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

4.1   Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research)

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) is responsible for:

4.2   Senior Leaders

Senior Leaders as defined in the Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff Procedure are responsible for:

  • Referring disclosed commercialisation FCOIs to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) as required.
  • Working with staff who have made a disclosure of a commercialisation FCOI to refine and implement an agreed management plan.

4.3   Commercialisation Pathways Advisory Group

The Commercialisation Pathways Advisory Group is responsible for advising the Deputy Vice‑Chancellor (Research) on the interpretation and application of the requirements of this procedure in relation to specific commercialisation cases.

4.4   University staff

Staff must complete mandatory training and undertake regular self-assessment and disclosures where necessary and must disclose and manage any FCOI involving themselves. Staff should also alert supervisors to FCOI held by other staff where they have reasonable belief the FCOI has not previously been disclosed. 

5.0   Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Commercialisation Pathways Advisory Group is the primary control for the monitoring of the effectiveness of this procedure.

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and Chief Operating Officer are responsible for reviewing the effectiveness of this procedure.

6.0   Recording and Reporting

All records of actual, perceived/apparent, and potential FCOIs are recorded in the conflict of interest register as described in section 6.1 of the Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff Procedure.

7.0   Appendix

7.1   Definitions

Management plan: an approved course of action based around one of the management option levels 2‑6 (Restrict, Recruit, Remove, Relinquish, Resign) to address the FCOI.

Related person: can include the following –

  • Family and close personal relationships – staff must not be involved in decisions affecting the employment or academic administration or teaching of a person with whom they have a family or close personal relationship. These relationships may include spouse, children, siblings or cousins, relations by marriage, close relatives, close friendships or sexual relationships.
  • Financial relationships – staff must not be involved in decisions affecting the employment or academic administration of a person with whom they have a commercial relationship or where a personal financial interest exists.

Significant Financial Interest: includes, but is not limited to, (1) financial compensation, including travel, from consulting, employment, managerial, and fiduciary relationships that, when aggregated over the preceding twelve months, exceed $10,000; (2) equity and other financial interests above $10,000, excluding interests of any amount in diversified financial holdings (e.g. ETFs or other managed funds); (3) equity interests of any amount, or entitlement to the same, in a non-publicly traded, for-profit, entity; (4) intellectual property rights and interests (e.g. patents, copyrights), upon receipt of income related to such rights and interests; and (5) holding fiduciary/governance/management positions such as Directorships. “Financial compensation” does not include royalties or other remuneration paid by UQ.

University staff: means all officers and employees of the University, persons acting in an honorary or voluntary capacity for or at the University, and Members of the University Senate. For the purposes of this policy, this definition also includes contractors undertaking work for or on behalf of the University.

Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne

Procedures

Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for Members of Senate - Procedure

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1.0   Purpose and Scope

1.1   Context

Members of Senate are required to comply with the requirements of section 26A of the University of Queensland Act 1998 in the performance of their functions. Section 26A requires members to:

  1. act honestly and in the best interests of the University; and

  2. exercise reasonable skill, care and diligence; and

  3. disclose to the Senate any conflict that may arise between the member’s personal interests and the interests of the University; and

  4. not make improper use of their position as a member, or of information acquired because of their position as a member, to gain, directly or indirectly, any advantage for the member or another person.

In accordance with section 6(d) of the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994 (Qld) the University has a Conflict of Interest Policy which requires Staff and members of Senate to acknowledge the primacy of the public interest and ensure that any conflict of interest is avoided, resolved or appropriately managed in accordance with that policy.

The Conflict of Interest Policy applies to all Staff of the University and members of the Senate and has two procedures:

  • Conflict of Interest for members of  Staff; and

  • Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for members of Senate.

1.2   Purpose

This Procedure:

  • outlines the responsibilities of Senate members and lay members in relation to conflicts of interest and outline a process to identify, declare and manage conflicts; and

  • sets out a process for members of Senate to identify and declare related party transactions.

1.3   Scope

This Procedure applies to members of Senate acting in their capacity as a Senate member and lay members.  In addition, a member of Senate or lay member who is also a Staff member must disclose any interests that might arise in their capacity as a Staff member in accordance with the Conflict of Interest Policy and Conflict of Interest Procedure for members of the Staff.

Members of Senate and lay members are directed by the University to comply with the Conflict of Interest Policy and this Procedure.

2.0   Process and Key Controls

  1. Members of Senate have a duty to act in the best interests of the University in the performance of their functions. In the interests of good governance, the University will manage conflicts of interests for members of Senate by requiring members to:

    1. avoid conflicts of interest where possible;

    2. identify and properly disclose any conflicts of interest;

    3. carefully manage any conflicts of interests; and

    4. follow this Procedure in disclosing and managing conflicts of interests.

UQ’s Conflict of Interest Policy requires members of Senate to assess their private and personal interests and identify whether they conflict or have a potential to conflict with their duties as a member of Senate.  Any conflicts or potential conflicts are to be disclosed and managed in accordance with section 3 of the Procedure.

  1. Lay members who sit on Senate committees or Senate working groups are required to declare any conflicts of interest in accordance with this procedure as if they were members of Senate.

  2. Senate members also come under the definition of ‘key management personnel’ under the Australian Accounting Standard AASB 124 Related Party Disclosures.  This Standard requires members of Senate to declare, on an annual basis, any related party transactions/arrangements.

3.0   Key Requirements

3.1   Declarations of Interests

Members of Senate are required to, on appointment and thereafter on an ongoing basis as necessary, make a declaration of any personal interests that could give rise to or reasonably be perceived as a conflict between the member’s personal interests and the interests of the University. 

The declaration of interest is to be made to the Senate Secretary. The Senate Secretary will ensure a current Register of Interests is available on the Board portal before each Senate meeting.

The declaration of interests must include, where relevant:

  • The name of the member of Senate;

  • The date the interest arose;

  • A record of the interest, for example:

    • Current paid work;

    • Current investments;

    • Current trusteeships;

    • Current directorships;

    • Current membership of other organisations;

    • Relevant interests of family.

  • The relationship of interests (if any) to the University’s activities or proposed activities;

  • The date of the disclosure;

  • The steps taken to prevent or manage the conflict, if any.

Where, at a Senate, Senate committee or Senate working group meeting, a discussion is to be held or decision made on a matter where a Senate member has a conflict of interest, the member is required as soon as practicable to:

  1. disclose the conflict to the Chancellor or chair of the committee or working group if the declaration has not already been made; or

  2. remind members if a declaration has already been made. 

Where a member is in doubt as to whether or not an interest should be declared, the member should consult with the Chancellor or chair of the committee or working group, as soon as practicable.

Where a question arises concerning a conflict of interest of the Chancellor, or the chair of a committee or working group, the determination and management of the conflict is to be considered and decided by the whole of the Senate, committee or working group, excluding the Chancellor, or chair, as appropriate.

3.2   Declaration of Interests as an Agenda Item

There will be a standing item titled “Declaration of Interests” (after Welcome and Apologies) on the agenda for all Senate, Committee and Working Group meetings.

3.3   Managing Conflicts of Interest

Where a conflict arises between an interest of a member and an issue for consideration at a Senate meeting, or Senate committee or working group meeting, the conflict should be noted in the minutes of the meeting. 

When deciding what course of action to adopt to manage a conflict of interest, consideration will be given to:

  • whether the conflict needs to be avoided or simply documented;

  • whether the conflict will realistically impair the disclosing member’s capacity to impartially participate in decision-making processes of Senate or Senate committee;

  • any alternative options to avoid the conflict;

  • the possibility of creating an appearance of improper conduct that might impair confidence in, or the reputation of the University.

Once the conflict is appropriately disclosed, the Senate or a Senate committee or working group (excluding any conflicted member) should decide how to manage the conflict. Strategies available, include:

  1. determining that it would remain appropriate for the member to contribute to the discussion about the issue;

  2. imposing restrictions on the involvement of the member in the matter, by

    1. restricting the receipt of Senate papers or other information which in any way relates to that a matter; or

    2. restricting participation in any debate; or

    3. excluding that member from voting on the matter or issue.

  3. requiring the member leave the room during any debate or vote on that matter;

  4. requiring the member relinquish the interest that is creating the conflict; or

  5. requesting the member to resign from Senate.  This approach would only be considered if the conflict of interest is material and cannot be resolved in any other workable way.

3.4   Declaration of Related Party Transactions/Arrangements

Each year in November, Senate members are required to complete a Declaration of Related Party Transactions/Arrangements for the current period 1 January to 31 December in relation to The University of Queensland.  Any declarations made by members may be reported in the University’s Financial Statements in accordance with the requirements of the Australian Accounting Standard AASB 124 Related Party Disclosures.

4.0   Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

4.1   Members of Senate

Members of Senate are responsible for complying with this Procedure by declaring any conflicts of interest and related party transactions/arrangements. Members are also required to ensure any declared conflicts of interest are managed in accordance with this Procedure.

4.2   Finance and Business Services

The Corporate Finance Section of Finance and Business Services is responsible for coordinating the annual declaration of related party transactions/arrangements and advising on the requirements of Australian Accounting Standard Board (AASB) standard - 124 Related Party Disclosures in relation to the disclosure of any declarations in the University’s Financial Statements.

5.0   Monitoring, Review and Assurance

Senate will review the confidential register of interests and related party transactions on an annual basis.

The Senate Secretary is responsible for ensuring compliance with this Procedure.

6.0   Recording and Reporting

6.1   Senate Secretary

The Senate Secretary is responsible for maintaining a confidential register of interests and for documenting in the minutes a declared or determined interest at a meeting of Senate and the manner in which the Senate resolved to manage the conflict.

6.2   Secretary of a Senate Committee or Working Group

The Secretary of a Senate Committee or Working Group is responsible for documenting in the minutes any conflict of interest that arises in a Senate Committee or Working Group meeting and the manner in which the conflict was managed and notifying the Senate Secretary of the conflict and the manner in which the conflict was managed.

6.3   Chief Financial Officer

The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for maintaining a confidential register of related party transactions/arrangements.

7.0   Appendix

7.1   Definitions

Conflict of Interest – is a situation where an actual, perceived or potential conflict exists:

  • an actual conflict involves a direct conflict between a member’s duties and responsibilities to the University and a competing interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party.

  • a perceived conflict exists where it could reasonably be perceived, or give the appearance, that a competing interest could improperly influence the performance of a member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.

  • a potential conflict of interest arises where a member has an interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party, that could conflict with the member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.

key management personnel - are people with the authority and responsibility for planning, directing and controlling the activities of an entity, directly or indirectly, including any director (whether executive or otherwise) of that entity.

lay member means any other person who sits on Senate committees or Senate working groups who are not Senate members.

Related party or parties - includes:

  • the University’s key management personnel;

  • any close family members of the University’s key management personnel; and

  • any entities controlled or jointly controlled by a person from any of the above two groups.

Staff for the purposes of this procedure, means all officers and employees of the University, persons acting in an honorary or voluntary capacity for, or at the University, but excluding members of the University Senate and lay members.

Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne

Procedures

Conflict of Interest for Members of Staff - Procedures

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1.0   Purpose and Scope

1.1   Purpose

This procedure supports The University of Queensland’s (UQ or the University) Conflict of Interest Policy and outlines the processes for identifying, disclosing and managing conflicts of interest at UQ.

1.2   Scope

This procedure applies to all University staff (including contractors).

Where transient conflicts occur through service on panels, such as appointment or procurement panels, the disclosure of the conflict should occur either verbally in the meeting or on the appropriate form, in accordance with UQ Recruitment & Selection Manual (see UQ Recruitment & Selection policy) or UQ’s Procurement policy respectively.

Sources of research funding need to be disclosed so that research outputs can be objectively assessed by users. All sources of financial and in-kind support for a research output must be disclosed in the acknowledgements of the research output in accordance with the UQ Authorship Procedure. 

Where a conflict relates to the commercialisation of research, this procedure must be read in conjunction with the Commercialisation Conflicts of Interest Procedure.

This procedure does not apply to members of Senate. The Conflict of Interest and Related Party Transactions for Members of Senate Procedure provides the process for members of Senate to disclose and manage a conflict of interest.

2.0   Process and Key Controls

  1. All staff must assess their private and personal interests and identify whether those interests may conflict with their official UQ duties and responsibilities.
  2. All staff are required to disclose their conflicts of interest and suggest management plans for approval using the online disclosure tool.
  3. Local Managers review conflict of interest management plans to ensure the efficient and effective management of the conflict of interest.
  4. Conflict of interest management plans are approved by the relevant approval authority.

Once a staff member discloses a conflict of interest and suggests a management plan using the online disclosure tool their Local Manager will review the management plan and either request further information or changes to be made by the staff member, or recommend the management plan be  approved or not by the Senior Leader.

Senior Leaders will review the management plan and either request further information or that changes are made by the staff member before they approve the plan or not.

3.0   Principles and Key Requirements

3.1   Identifying a conflict of interest

A conflict of interest may include circumstances involving a staff member’s:

  • competing external interest or obligation;
  • personal financial interest;
  • personal relationships; or
  • receipt of personal benefits.

When considering whether a conflict of interest exists, staff should consider:

  • whether the interest, relationship or obligation is consistent with community values, standards and behaviours, and the principles outlined in the University’s Code of Conduct;
  • how the interest, relationship or obligation might be viewed or perceived by other people; and
  • whether the interest, relationship or obligation may compromise their ability to exercise impartial leadership, management or judgment.

Staff should also alert supervisors to conflicts of interest held by other staff where they have a reasonable belief the conflict of interest has not previously been disclosed.

3.2   Disclosing a conflict of interest

When a staff member identifies a conflict of interest, they must disclose the conflict using the online disclosure tool and submit it to their supervisor.

Where a conflict of interest arises during a meeting, the staff member must verbally disclose it and have it formally noted (e.g. in minutes of the meeting).

Where a supervisor becomes aware of a potential conflict of interest that has not been disclosed by a member of their staff, they should discuss the matter with the staff member and ensure the conflict is disclosed and managed appropriately using the online disclosure tool.

Where circumstances affecting an existing or previously disclosed conflict of interest change, the staff member must amend the disclosure and submit a revised disclosure and management plan using the online disclosure tool for approval.

3.3   Managing a conflict of interest

When a staff member has identified and disclosed a conflict of interest, they must develop a plan with their supervisor to resolve or manage the conflict. A conflict of interest management plan includes:

  • the nature of the staff member’s private interest;
  • the interests of the University with which the staff member’s private interest conflicts;
  • the likelihood of the interests conflicting;
  • an outline of risk management strategies to be implemented; and
  • the recommended measures to be taken.

Once a conflict of interest management plan has been developed, it must be approved by the relevant Senior Leader using the online disclosure tool.  

The management plan should be reviewed annually or when circumstances change involving the staff member’s conflict. The staff member and their supervisor are responsible for ensuring that the management plan remains appropriate.

3.4   Privacy

Any personal information collected, stored, used or disclosed under this procedure must be handled according to the University’s Privacy Management Policy.

4.0   Roles, Responsibilities and Accountabilities

Effective conflict of interest management at the University depends on the collaborative efforts of staff members and their supervisors, in consultation with other relevant parties as outlined below.

4.1   University staff

Staff are responsible for identifying whether a private or personal interest conflicts with their official University duties and responsibilities.

Staff must complete mandatory training, undertake regular self-assessment of their private and personal interests and disclose and manage any relevant conflicts.

Where a staff member is unsure about whether they have a conflict of interest they should seek advice from their supervisor in the first instance. Supervisors may seek advice from their Senior Leader or from the Integrity and Investigations Unit if they require further clarification.

If a conflict of interest ceases to exist, then the relevant staff member should advise their supervisor using the online disclosure tool ensuring the record is closed and no longer subject to a management plan.

4.2   Supervisors

4.2.1   Local Manager

For the purposes of this procedure, a Local Manager is a staff member appointed to Authority Level 5 under the UQ HR Authorisation Schedule.

In addition to the responsibilities in section 4.1, the Local Manager is required to:

  • Work with persons at or below Level 5 within their team(s) to refine management plans for conflicts that have been disclosed to them;
  • Recommend management plans for conflicts involving persons below Level 5 within their team(s) or organisation unit for Senior Leader approval;
  • Seek advice on how to manage conflicts of interest where necessary;
  • Ensure all staff in their team or Organisational Unit undertake annual conflict of interest self‑assessment and disclosure; and
  • Monitor and manage any conflict of interest and management plan within the conflict of interest register (as described in section 5.1 of the Conflict of Interest Policy) involving staff under their supervision until a point in time when a conflict no longer exists.

4.2.2   Senior Leader

For the purposes of this procedure, a Senior Leader is a staff member appointed to Authority Level 3 or their nominee (not below level 4) under the UQ HR Authorisation Schedule.

In addition to the responsibilities in section 4.1, the Senior Leader is required to:

  • Review and approve where appropriate management plans that are recommended to them by a Local Manager;
  • Work with persons at or below Level 3 within their team(s) to refine management plans for conflicts that have been disclosed to them, and approve where appropriate;
  • Seek advice from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) to formulate a management plan for a commercialisation or financial conflict of interest where appropriate; and
  • Monitor and manage any conflict of interest and management plan within the conflict of interest register (as described in section 5.1 of the Conflict of Interest Policy) involving staff under their supervision until a point in time when a conflict no longer exists.

4.2.3   Executive Leader

For the purposes of this procedure, an Executive Leader is a staff member appointed to Authority Level 2 under the UQ HR Authorisation Schedule.

In addition to the responsibilities in section 4.1, the Executive Leader is required to:

  • Work with persons below Level 2 within their team(s) to refine management plans for conflicts that have been disclosed to them, and approve where appropriate;
  • Approve and manage complex or sensitive disclosures or management plans that are referred to them by a Senior Leader, or otherwise referred; and
  • Monitor and manage any conflict of interest and management plan within the conflict of interest register (as described in section 5.1 of the Conflict of Interest Policy) involving staff under their supervision until a point in time when a conflict no longer exists.

4.2.4   Vice-Chancellor and President

In addition to the responsibilities in section 4.1, the Vice-Chancellor and President is required to:

  • Work with members of the Vice-Chancellors Committee to refine management plans for conflicts that have been disclosed to them and approve where appropriate;
  • Approve and manage complex or sensitive disclosures or management plans that are referred to them by an Executive Leader, or otherwise referred; and
  • Monitor and manage any conflict of interest and management plan within the conflict of interest register (as described in section 5.1 of the Conflict of Interest Policy) involving staff under their supervision until a point in time when a conflict no longer exists.

4.2.5   Integrity and Investigations Unit

The Integrity and Investigations Unit is responsible for:

  • administering conflict of interest training and maintaining the staff self‑assessment tool;
  • investigating serious breaches of this procedure and the University Code of Conduct in relation to conflicts of interest; and
  • maintaining records of all conflict of interest matters it investigates, including outcomes and any external referrals that have been made.

5.0   Monitoring, Review and Assurance

The Provost and Chief Human Resources Officer is responsible for:

  • reviewing this procedure regularly and in consultation with relevant stakeholders; and
  • raising awareness of the Conflict of Interest policy and procedure across the University to build an organisational culture that supports supervisors and staff in its implementation.

6.0   Recording and Reporting

6.1   Disclosure and management of interest Register

A University disclosure and management of interest register must contain:

  • conflicts of interest that have been disclosed using the disclosure tool; and
  • approved conflict management plans.

7.0   Appendix

7.1   Definitions and terms

Academic administration (including research administration): means any administrative aspect of a student’s enrolment in a program at the University including admission, enrolment and assessment.

Conflict of interest: is a situation where an actual, perceived, or potential conflict exists:

  • an actual conflict involves a direct conflict between a staff member’s duties and responsibilities to the University and a competing interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party.
  • a perceived conflict exists where it could reasonably be perceived, or give the appearance, that a competing interest could improperly influence the performance of a staff member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.
  • a potential conflict of interest arises where a staff member has an interest or obligation, whether personal or involving a third party, that could conflict with the staff member’s duties and responsibilities to the University.

Supervisors: refer to Section 6.1 of the Conflict of Interest Policy.

University staff: refer to Section 6.1 of the Conflict of Interest Policy.

Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne

Forms

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Conflict of Interest - paper disclosure form (for casual staff and unpaid staff) - Form

Conflict of Interest - paper disclosure form (for casual staff and unpaid staff) - Form

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Body
Description: 

Casual staff and unpaid staff should use this form as instructed in the Conflict of Interest policy and procedures.

Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne
Conflict of Interest – online disclosure tool (for continuing and fixed-term staff)

Conflict of Interest – online disclosure tool (for continuing and fixed-term staff)

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Body
Description: 

Online disclosure tool (for continuing and fixed-term staff) for declaring a conflict of interest.

 

Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne
Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne
Custodians
Chief Human Resources Officer Dr Al Jury
Provost Professor Aidan Byrne