Annex 4 - Maintaining professional relationships
The underlying principle of maintaining professional relationships is that all members of staff should adhere to the "Seven Principles of Public Life" drawn up under the Nolan (now Neill) committee to which this guidance relates (see Annex 5).
Relationships between Staff and Students
The University values good professional relationships between staff and students.
The University is committed to an environment for staff and undergraduate and postgraduate students where decisions about assessment, selection and access to resources are based on merit.
Members of staff should recognize a professional and ethical responsibility to protect the interests of students, to respect the trust involved in the staff/student relationship and to accept the constraints and obligations inherent in that responsibility.
Students who are, or who have been, involved in an intimate relationship with a member of staff, and who do not consider their involvement to be truly consensual have the right of complaint under the University's harassment procedure.
The establishment of an academic relationship with family members or with friends or associates who become students may also raise ethical and professional issues.
Professional responsibilities of staff towards students may be academic (including assessment), administrative or advisory. If there are concerns about the nature of a relationship, a member of staff must inform his/her head of department without undue delay and ensure that there is a clear separation from such responsibilities. Failure to do so may lead to complaints of bias and possible disciplinary action.
Relationships between members of staff
Where intimate relationships occur between members of staff, it is the responsibility of both individuals to deal appropriately with any potential conflicts of interest. For example, it may be necessary to review the relevant reporting structure if the relationship is between a line manager and a member of staff.
Staff should take care that financial, family or personal relationships are entered into on a consensual basis and do not advantage or unfairly disadvantage any member of staff, or other individuals, e.g. in dealing with applications for jobs.
Where relevant, the Head of Department should be immediately informed if a relationship is causing concern at work. The matter will be treated in absolute confidence and, in consultation with the member(s) of staff, ways sought to avoid conflicts of interest.
Members of staff who have close personal or familial relationships with an applicant for employment must declare their interest and avoid any involvement in the appointment process, either as a member of an appointment panel or in the shortlisting process. It is acceptable to act as a referee for an applicant in this situation provided the interest is made clear in the letter of support.A member of staff who is, or who has been , involved in an intimate relationship with another member of staff, who does not consider their involvement to be truly consensual and where the relationship is causing problems at work will have the right of complaint under the University's Respect at Work and study Policy and Code of Practice procedure.