"envelope" – tribute or bribe

The new Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct clarifies the boundaries and answers the difficult dilemma of whether gifts to government officials are allowed.

Civil servants who encounter moral or ethical issues at work may seek the advice of an ethics adviser. He, among other things, will be required to draw up an annual report on the identified problems, writes cathimerini.gr.

So, can a civil servant use a company car for personal purposes? What should he do when he leaves his position? What if he discovers that his colleague and friend is making systematic mistakes? When do jokes end and harassment by colleagues begins?

Perhaps we all know the answers to these and other similar questions, but in everyday work, personal boundaries are not always so clear, and, most importantly, we often lack the courage to defend them. “We cannot expect all employees to have the strength of character necessary to defend what is right,” Interior Minister Makis Voridis said during the launch of the new “Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct for Civil Servants.” The document officially defines how to act in a particular case, and what is punishable (and how).

Let’s look at four examples of ethical dilemmas and how the code treats them.

• You discover that your colleague is using social media to highlight service practices they disagree with. In published documents, he denigrates the service.

The Code provides that officials perform their duties without disclosing documents and personal data. In addition, they protect information in physical form (when communicating with others) or their electronic messages.

• The company your service is partnering with is offering you a three-day trip as a goodwill gesture for your cooperation.

The code states that officials should not directly or indirectly accept any gifts on the issues they are dealing with (treated as a bribe to “cajole” you, and you resolved the issue in the affirmative). Workers also should not accept any invitations to events that normally charge a fee.

Although not valid as a statute or regulation, it is still “a clear indication that a public official must and must not do“.

• You work in a division that oversees insurance and tax affairs. During the audit, you discover that some of the entrepreneurs being audited are clients of your wife (spouse), who works as an accountant.

The Code provides that employees apply on exemption from businesswhose outcome affects the interests of his/her spouse, relative or person with whom they maintain a special friendly or hostile relationship.

• You discover that the driver of your organization’s company car is also using it for personal use.

The code states that the use of operator equipment and material resources should be avoided.

Some of the rules included in the set relate to both the public service and the disciplinary code, and in this sense, their violation can lead to sanctions. However, the head of each institution must appoint a person responsible for overseeing the implementation of the provisions.

However, the Integrity Adviser (Σύμβουλος Ακεραιότητας), an institution established in the public administration system by law 4795/2021 (concerning the new internal control system in the state), will have significant weight for the implementation of the code and will have the power to give advice to all levels of administration.

Civil servants can contact an ethics consultantwhen faced with any moral or ethical issues in their work. The expert, among other things, will be required to prepare an annual report on the problems identified by him. He submits his annual report to the head of the organization in which he works. He will also be responsible for informing employees of their respective responsibilities.

With the adoption of the law (4795/2021) in all ministries, with the exception of ministries of foreign affairs, civil defense, shipping Already automatically established independent ethics advisor offices. Any other public body wishing to establish an ethics adviser office must apply, as did the region of Crete and Thessaly, as well as the municipalities of Chalkis and Mykonos.

52 civil servants have already completed relevant training and certification, and can apply.

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