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Library: Policy

340:2-1-8. Employee ethics and other employment

Revised 9-15-21

(a) Employee ethics and other employment, prohibition against use of position for personal gain, and avoidance of conflicts of interest.  A state employee is subject to appropriate corrective or disciplinary action if the employee fails to comply with the Rules of the Ethics Commission per Title 74 of the Oklahoma Statutes.

(1) Under these provisions, every employee during office hours, must devote full time, and attention, to Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) business.  An employee may not use:

(A) office hours for private gain, including activities involved in a business enterprise, such as livestock or crop farming, sale of real estate, or other business that involves self-employment; nor

(B) paid time, state offices, phones, supplies, and or equipment to further the programs or activities of private, non-profit organizations, even when the private organization's objectives are compatible with those of OKDHS.  Exceptions may occur as authorized by the division director and only for activities in which OKDHS can legitimately expend agency dollars, such as when OKDHS is a member of an organization or in situations where OKDHS has responsibility as a member of a board or commission by law or by appointment of the executive or legislative branch of government.  • 1

(2) An employee may accept other employment outside of his or her OKDHS regular office hours, provided such employment is approved in advance and does not interfere with, and is not in conflict with, the employee's OKDHS work. • 2

(3) It is vitally important that an OKDHS employee avoid actual and perceived conflicts of interest in activities, such as employment with a provider who contracts with OKDHS. The employment or other activities of a spouse or other close family member may create the appearance of a conflict of interest and cause members of the general public to question OKDHS decision-making.

(4) An OKDHS employee may not be employed by another state agency or any provider contracting with OKDHS without the prior written approval of the employee's division director. • 3

(b) Related employees.  Placement in a position that results in relatives, members of the same household, or comparably situated persons occupying positions within a division, office, facility, or area where one relative occupies a senior administrative position must be approved in writing by the OKDHS Director or designee.  • 4  OKDHS may make placements and work assignments of personnel as necessary to eliminate or prevent situations of this nature.  OKDHS policy prohibits, unless waived by the OKDHS Director or designee, the employment of any person in a position that results in:

(1) immediate supervision by a relative, a member of the employee's household, or a comparably situated person.  Relative is defined as spouse, child, parent, stepparent, parent-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, brother, sister, stepchild, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, first cousin, or foster relationship;

(2) placement in a position, as a second level reviewing supervisor, within a relative's line of authority or chain of command; or

(3) two or more relatives reporting to the same immediate supervisor, as defined in (b)(1) of this Section.

(c) Processing applications for OKDHS benefits or services on behalf of an employee's relative or for persons living in the employee's home.  In performing official duties, employees are impartial and perform their duties in a manner that maintains impartiality.  • 5  Employees who engage in improper client relationships, as referenced in this Section, are subject to appropriate corrective or disciplinary action.

(1) An employee may not:

(A) process, certify, or approve an application for benefits, payments, or services for any relative as defined in subsection (b) of this Section, or for any unrelated person living in the employee's household.  This includes a relationship to a relative that is terminated by death, divorce, or other reasons; nor

(B) act as an authorized representative for clients receiving OKDHS program benefits without the specific written approval of the local administrator after a determination is made that no one else is available to serve.

(2) In offices with limited staff, it may be necessary for an employee to take an application for a person(s) listed in subsection (b) of this Section; however, he or she cannot certify the person(s) for benefits, payments, or services.  • 6

(d) Client relationships.  In keeping with the OKDHS mission to serve and protect clients, OKDHS employees assist clients in developing independence and self‑sufficiency while recognizing their rights.  A client is defined as a program applicant, recipient, patient, and any other person receiving or making application for OKDHS services.  Clients' rights include, but are not limited to:

(1) privacy and the expectation that information obtained by OKDHS employees in the course of their duties is held confidential;

(2) treatment that conveys dignity, respect, courtesy, fairness, and good faith;

(3) expectation of high standards of personal conduct from OKDHS employees;

(4) freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, gender, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, or disability;

(5) freedom from sexual harassment;

(6) freedom from coercion to give gifts or services of value; and

(7) freedom from interference by OKDHS employees with regard to matters of individual belief or faith.  • 7

Revised 9-15-21

1. Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) employees are encouraged to be constructive citizens of their local communities with their private activities conducted on personal time and kept separate from OKDHS working hours.  While employed by OKDHS, an employee may not engage in a business enterprise either as an administrator, investor, or operator that is subject directly or indirectly to OKDHS control, inspection, review, audit, licensing, or enforcement.  If, as a member of the board of directors, the employee, or his or her spouse, has a stake in the financial gains or losses in a business enterprise, membership is prohibited.

2When an employee wishes to engage in other employment or in a business enterprise or activity or changes secondary employment or other business activity while an OKDHS employee, he or she submits in advance, Form 11AD042E, Request for Approval of Other Employment, to the his or her immediate supervisor and county or district director.

3When there is an appearance of a conflict of interest or involvement with another state agency or a private agency contracting with OKDHS, final approval of Form 11AD042E is made by the appropriate senior administrator or division director.

4For purposes of this Section, "a member of the employee's household," or "comparably situated persons," are those who are in a similar relationship to an employee, such as a relative but who, due to not being formally married, are not legally related.  For instance, a supervisor may not supervise his or her child's co-habiting or estranged partner even though the child and partner are not married.  Questions regarding interpretation of this Section are submitted in writing to the Human Resource Management (HRM) director, who makes a determination as to applicability of coverage.

5OKDHS employees are expected to:

(1) respect the privacy of clients and hold in confidence all information obtained in the course of their duties, as required by law and OKDHS rules;

(2) make every effort to foster maximum self-determination on the part of clients;

(3) ensure that all judgments, decisions, and actions are taken in the client's best interest;

(4) treat clients with dignity, respect, courtesy, fairness, and good faith;

(5) take responsibility for identifying, developing, and fully utilizing knowledge of their respective professions and adhere to professional codes of ethics and conduct that govern that profession;

(6) ensure that all contacts attempted, or made with a client, or relating to a client's case are recorded in the client case record including contacts in person, by phone, or by written correspondence;

(7) maintain high standards of personal conduct in the capacity and identity as an OKDHS employee;

(8) comply with OKDHS rules and procedures governing client abuse, neglect, and mistreatment; and

(9) recognize the affect their recommendations and professional actions may have on clients' lives, and ensure that personal, social, financial, political, or other inappropriate factors do not influence these actions or recommendations.

6. OKDHS employees are prohibited from:

(1) discriminating against employees or clients on the basis of race, gender, age, color, creed, national origin, religion, or disability and prohibited from engaging in sexual harassment.  Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or other unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, which makes sexual favors a condition of employment, employment benefits, approval, or receipt of benefits, or which create a hostile or offensive working or service environment, even though there may be no economic detriment to the employee or client;

(2) allowing personal problems and conflicts to interfere with professional judgments and effectiveness.  Any employee who becomes aware that such personal problems or conflicts may adversely affect the provision of services to clients, immediately advises his or her supervisor so appropriate steps can be taken to ensure that client services are unaffected;

(3) taking any action that violates the legal and civil rights of clients or others who may be affected by their actions;

(4) initiating a discussion with, or lobbying clients on, issues unrelated to the provision of client services while engaged in OKDHS official duties;

(5) using his or her position as an OKDHS employee to form a personal relationship with a client;

(6) exploiting the trust and dependency of clients or engaging in any activity that is, or is perceived as, an exploitation of the client relationship.  Prohibited activities include, but are not limited to:

(A) taking clients on overnight visits or trips, unless such overnight outings are officially arranged and sanctioned by OKDHS supervisory or administrative staff;

(B) extending or accepting social invitations from clients;

(C) engaging in sexual intimacies with clients;

(D) engaging in, or encouraging clients in illegal activities, including use or possession of illicit drugs or alcohol;

(E) giving or accepting gifts from clients, or exchanging or suggesting the exchange of any goods or services of value, unless specifically authorized by rules or appropriate supervisory personnel; and

(F) making home visits or other client contacts on behalf of OKDHS outside of OKDHS business hours, unless specifically authorized by his or her job description, rules, or appropriate supervisory personnel.

7.  (a) In the event an employee has a personal relationship with a person off-duty, whose case or OKDHS services are being administered by the immediate office or the program to which he or she is assigned, the employee promptly reports the relationship to his or her immediate supervisor.  The supervisor and local administrator determine whether it is appropriate for the employee to continue in that unit or be reassigned elsewhere.

(b) It is the local administrator's or designee's responsibility to complete and dispose of the application or to assign the application to another office.

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