Conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest occurs when private interests interfere, or appear to interfere with, performing official duties.

Employees must perform their duties in a fair and unbiased way, ensuring that decisions made are not impacted by self-interest, private affiliations, or the likelihood of gain or loss for them or others that they may wish to benefit or disadvantage. See sections 89 and 183 of the Public Sector Act 2022 for obligations related to conflicts of interest.

Government employees, depending on their role and personal circumstances, must declare their private interests at nominated times during their employment. The delegate they report their interests to, will determine if any are in conflict.

Private interests include personal, professional or business interests, as well as the interests of individuals that you associate with, such as family, dependents and friends.

See Declare an interest for a list of what to declare, and information about when and how you should declare them.

The delegate you declare your interests to will help you identify any conflicts.

Conflicts of interest fall into three categories:

  • Actual—there is a direct conflict between your current duties and your existing private interests
  • Potential—your current duties and private interests could conflict in the future
  • Perceived—it could appear that your private interests may improperly influence the performance of your current duties.

Conflicts can be:

  • Pecuniary—where there is a reasonable likelihood of financial loss or gain. For example, you (or a relative or close associate) own property, hold shares or a position in a company bidding for government work or accepting gifts or benefits.
  • Non-pecuniary—where there is no financial component, but may involve self-interest, personal or family relationships or other affiliations. For example, a tendency toward favour or prejudice resulting from friendship, animosity or other personal involvement that could bias your judgement or decisions.

Secondary employment

Secondary employment may be a conflict of interest if it impacts on your work performance, or health and well-being. Alternatively, secondary employment could provide the opportunity for personal loss or gain, such as using confidential information obtained from the government workplace or conducting personal business during work time.

It is best to avoid conflicts of interest, but this is not always possible. If the delegate you submitted your declaration of interests to identifies a conflict, they’ll assess what action, if any, is required to address it. Wait for instruction from your delegate before taking any action.

You may be able to manage or resolve your conflict of interest in the public interest. Your delegate will work with you to determine the best approach to achieve this. You must adhere to the agreed resolution strategies.

If your circumstances change, you should consider whether this brings about any new conflicts of interest, or changes to an existing conflict of interest.

Visit Declare an interest to find out how to submit a Variations of interests form.