Advisory Board for Safer Gambling: Managing conflicts of interest policy
Managing conflicts of interest
32. Different rules apply to different groups of people, reflecting their varied roles in the Gambling Commission’s governance structure. An overview of the types of roles and the rules that apply can be found at Annex A.
33. Managing interests and abiding by the principle of transparency is an on-going responsibility of each individual and needs active management. The Governance team maintain the Commission’s register of interests and can provide advice as needed, however it is the individual’s responsibility to ensure they are familiar with these rules on handling interests, complying with them, and ensuring their declaration of interest is accurate and up to date.
Declaration and publication of interests
34. The purpose of a register of interests is to ensure the Commission is able to identify and manage potential conflicts. For the most senior decision-makers and advisers in the organisation their register of interests will be published on the Commission website as part of our commitment to transparency and the requirements of Cabinet Office Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies which specifies interests should be declared publicly6.
35. For individuals appointed into decision-making and advisory roles, a declaration of interests will be sought at appointment, with an annual update thereafter (usually in April).
36. For individuals who enter into a role or activity where a declaration is needed (for instance, becoming a member of a decision-making group or making a procurement decision), a declaration of interests will be sought, with annual updates required.
37. All employees and contractors are asked to identify any conflicts of interest during the recruitment process. It is the individual's responsibility to keep any declaration up to date, and the Commission will issue annual reminders to do so.
38. In recognition that interests may be acquired or may unexpectedly give rise to a conflict, decision-making meetings will have declarations of interest as a standing agenda item, allowing individuals to notify the Chair of any emerging conflict. Any declaration will be recorded in the minutes. The Chair of the meeting will decide how to manage the interest, with support of the secretariat and referring to this policy. It is the individual’s responsibility to disclose any emerging interest.
Decisions about managing interests
39. The action taken to manage an interest will depend on the nature of the interest and its interaction and/or potential interaction with Commission business. In the event of an unresolved conflict, the decision on how to manage it will be taken by the Accounting Officer, advised by the advisory group chair if appropriate.
40. Disputes about the proposed handling will be dealt with through review of the decision by the Chair of the Commission.
41. In all cases outlined in paragraphs 25. and 26., advice and guidance should be taken from the Governance team, People Services or General Counsel, as appropriate.
42. Failure to disclose an interest or comply with directions to effectively manage a conflict of interest may result in disciplinary action or termination of appointment.
Rules for managing interests
43. In the case of incompatible conflicts (see paragraph 14. within the 'Incompatible conflicts' section), the interest must either be removed or the individual’s employment and/or appointment with the Commission must cease. The decision lies with the individuals outlined in paragraph 25., and in the event of a dispute, follows paragraph 26.
44. In recognition of the serious consequences of identifying an incompatible conflict, additions to the list at para 14. (within the 'Incompatible conflicts' section) can only be made by the Board of Commissioners with advice from General Counsel.
45. Individuals must remove themselves from discussion or determination of matters in which they, or a connected person, have a financial interest. The exception to this requirement is some decisions relating to pay and conditions, which must, on occasion, be discussed by the people affected by them. Care will be taken to ensure the risk of conflict is minimised and oversight is provided. As a minimum decisions of this type must always be recorded.
46. The requirement for an individual to remove themselves from a discussion or determination includes avoiding any procurement process where they have an interest in a potential supplier, any meeting where the issue is being discussed, and any discussion of the issue outside of meetings. If a conflict is engaged during a meeting, the meeting will halt whilst the individual leaves. The recusal should be recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
47. In matters where individuals, or connected persons, have a non-financial interest, they should declare the interest and not participate in the discussion or determination of a matter where the interest might give rise to the suggestion of bias or perceived bias.
48. In other cases, options for managing interests will vary depending on the interest and the nature of the individual’s role with the Commission. Possible responses include (this list is not exhaustive):
- in the event of an interest during notice period (for example going to work for an operator) the individual may need to be moved to alternative employment and/or placed on paid leave
- creation of a 'firewall' to prevent individuals having access to certain information
- modifying activities undertaken at work and/or outside of work to mitigate or avoid the interest.
People Services proposing a new performance management process to the Executive Team.
Commissioners at the Remuneration Committee reviewing proposals in relation to expenses payments.
These proposals will have an impact on everyone involved in the design and decision but is an essential part of the role of the parties.
ABSG: Managing conflicts of interest policy - Principles for managing conflicts of interest Next section
ABSG: Managing conflicts of interest policy - Data Protection and Confidentiality
Last updated: 25 April 2023
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