Integrity

Trust, Service

& Accountability

Behaving Ethically

Scenario 8 - Agency equipment

Neil is part of a three-person crew returning to the depot after a day spent mowing the highway right-of-way. Their equipment, including two large mowers, is loaded on their truck. As they round a corner, Jim flags them down. Jim has a small lot on the side of his property, which is just down the street, and it has become overgrown. He explains that his mower has broken down and that it would take a few days to organise a commercial lawn mowing company to take care of this. However, Jim has organised a wedding anniversary party (his 20th) at his house for tomorrow afternoon, and the overgrown lot would simply be an embarrassment. Jim would gladly pay Neil and his team $300 to mow the lot. It wouldn’t take them very long, the agency equipment isn’t being used for anything else, and it would be a quick and handy $100 for each of the team.

How should Neil respond to the request?

  1. He can say ‘yes’, if he is so inclined to do the work.
  2. He can say ‘yes’, as a service to the community; but he must decline any payment.
  3. He should first consult the others in the crew. Any of them who are prepared to do the work may then do it, but only after any unwilling crew members are taken back to the depot.
  4. He must refuse to do the work. He should be polite about this, but it simply isn’t allowed


About the possible answers:

Re: a.

It doesn’t matter whether or not Neil and/or his crew are prepared to do the work. (1)The agency’s equipment is not his to use for his, or the crew’s benefit. Neil simply does not have the authority to do this.  (2) Acceptance of money to do such work is not only contrary to the Ethical Framework, it is also illegal.

Re: b.

Although it would be helping a person in the community, and that is a good thing for an individual to do, the agency’s equipment is not Neil’s to use as he sees fit. He simply does not have the authority to do this. It would be giving away (donating) something that is not his to give away.

Re: c.

Neither Neil nor anyone else on the crew has the authority to engage in such work, using the agency’s equipment.  (1) The agency’s equipment is not theirs to use for their own benefit.  (2) Acceptance of money to do such work is not only contrary to the Ethical Framework, it is also illegal.

Re: d.

THE BEST ANSWER FOR YOUR WORKPLACE?

This is correct. (1) The agency’s equipment is not Neil’s or his crew’s to use for their own benefit.  (2) Acceptance of money to do such work amounts to taking a bribe, and is not only contrary to the Ethical Framework, it is also illegal. Although it might be presented to Neil as a community service, and it certainly would be helping a member of the community, it would, in the circumstances, be an inappropriate use of agency equipment.


 

Government Sector Employment Act 2013

Ethical framework

Integrity

(a) Consider people equally without prejudice or favour.

(b) Act professionally with honesty, consistency and impartiality.

Trust

(c) Uphold the law, institutions of government and democratic principles.

Service

(a) Provide services fairly with a focus on customer needs.

Accountability

(c) Provide transparency to enable public scrutiny.

 

Crimes Act 1900

Section 249B – Corrupt commissions or rewards

(1) If any agent corruptly receives or solicits (or corruptly agrees to receive or solicit) from another person for the agent or for anyone else any benefit.

(a) as an inducement …on account of

(i) doing or not doing something …or

(ii) showing or not showing … favour or disfavour to any person

in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal …

the agent is liable to imprisonment for 7 years.

249J – Custom not a defence

In any proceedings for an offence under this Part, it is not a defence that the receiving … of any benefit is customary in any trade, business, profession or calling.