In their personal capacity, University staff can be involved in a variety of activities outside of the University. Where those activities relate to an area of academic expertise or are connected to employment or status at the University, we all need to carefully draw a line between our personal interests and those of the University.
What outside activities are you involved in?
To help you manage this distinction, the University has resources to help guide certain ‘outside’ activities:
- Consultancies on behalf of the University must be undertaken according to the Research Grants, Contracts and Consultancies Policy
- Practice of an academic discipline outside of the University is subject to the Practice of a Discipline Outside the University by Members of the Academic Staff procedure. The procedure includes a requirements for the Vice-Chancellor to approve practice of a discipline which exceeds 52 week days in a year.
Other activities may not necessarily be captured by these guidelines but may still intersect in some way with your work at the University. This includes, for example, consultancies conducted purely in a personal capacity, or directorships, board or management positions for an external organisation.
Regardless of what it is, each of us is responsible for managing our outside activities in the context of our obligations as a University employee – and, in a way that is ethical and transparent.
Drawing the line between University and personal commitments – some key considerations
- Identify and manage conflicts of interest
Consider how the engagement might conflict, or may be perceived to conflict, with your duties as a University employee. Actual, perceived or potential conflicts of interest must be disclosed and managed in accordance with the Behaviour and Conduct Policy.
The Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research, your University employment contract, and project Funding Agreements also require that conflicts of interest are declared and appropriately managed. In addition, you may need to consider a foreign engagement assessment if your activity involves an international entity.
- Ensure appropriate use of University resources
Activities conducted in your personal capacity must not suggest any University affiliation. It is not appropriate to use the University’s brand, staff time, resources or facilities for non-University activities. For instance, it is not acceptable to:
- Use University letterhead when communicating as a director of an external company
- Display the University logo on a presentation you are giving in your personal capacity
- Undertake a personal consultancy from your University office (even if it is outside of your usual working hours) unless specifically agreed with your Head of School
- Regularly email newsletters for a community organisation you are involved in using a University email account.
Misuse of University resources for personal benefit may be considered fraud under the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy, and a breach of your obligations as a Public Officer under the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption Act. It may also be grounds for misconduct under the University’s Enterprise Agreement, Code of Conduct and your employment contract.
- Consider how Intellectual Property will be created or used
In most cases, the University has a right to the Intellectual Property (IP) that is created in the course of your employment. You must obtain approval from the University first if you wish to use any IP that you created as a University employee as part of your involvement with an outside organisation.
You should ensure that appropriate agreed arrangements, setting out IP ownership, sharing of financial benefit, use and commercialisation, are in place before commencing collaborative research with a person or organisation external to the University. Contact the ICP Business Development team for assistance.
- Arrange appropriate insurance
Activities you undertake in your personal capacity are not covered by the University’s insurance policies, so it is up to you to ensure that you have adequate public liability, professional indemnity, medical malpractice or any other relevant insurance. If you are commencing a directorship, check that the company has adequate ‘directors and officers liability’ insurance and will indemnify you as a director, either through a Deed of Indemnity or within the constitution. If in doubt, seek independent advice.
By thinking ahead and conforming to University policies and procedures, you will be able to confidently pursue and benefit from your outside activities in a way that protects both you and the University.
Relevant University Policies and Procedures:
- Code of Conduct
- Behaviour and Conduct Policy
- Conflict of Interest Procedure
- Research Grants, Contracts and Consultancies Policy
- Practice of a Discipline Outside the University by Members of the Academic Staff
- Intellectual Property Policy
- Fraud and Corruption Control Policy and Plan