To provide guidelines for ethical standards of behavior for all staff of PRS.
For the purpose of this document, “staff” refers to PRS employees, volunteers, and interns. All staff is expected to follow the guidelines of the respective licensing, certification, or regulatory body under which they are obligated to comply/perform their professional duties, in addition to the Policies and Procedures of PRS, Inc.
All staff shall adhere to the highest ethical and moral standards of behavior. All staff shall acknowledge in writing their commitment to upholding the code of ethical behavior in fulfilling the mission of PRS. This code is not intended to cover all conceivable areas of ethical behavior, but instead, addresses the most common areas presently identified which require guidance. All staff will conduct themselves in such a manner as to not bring discredit to persons served, PRS, or themselves. When staff encounters additional ethical issues not addressed in this code, they must immediately address such issues with their supervisor.
This code of ethical behavior applies to all relationships between staff and persons served and in his/her professional relationships with subordinate and supervisory staff, with family members of persons served, with colleagues, with staff from other organizations, and with the general community, including business and contractual relationships.
Each new staff person will read the Code of Ethical Behavior in full and sign the Code of Ethical Behavior form before he/she commences employment or assignment and shall review the Code thereafter at time of Annual Performance Review and initial an acknowledgment of such review. The original signed copy of the Code of Ethical Behavior, in its entirety, shall be kept in the staff person’s personnel file. The Code of Ethical Behavior shall be posted on the organization’s website.
Code of Ethical Behavior:
- Respect for diversity, non-discrimination. I shall treat all clients, staff, and persons in the community with dignity, fairness, and respect. Within the context of my work, I shall not discriminate on the basis of race, ancestry, nationality, sexual orientation, religion, age, gender, mental, or physical disability; and I will proactively seek to prevent and eliminate discrimination both within the organization and in the community. I will promote and encourage respect for diversity. I will actively work to expand choices and opportunities for both clients and staff.
- Conflict of Interest. I shall be aware of and avoid personal and professional circumstances that may cause a conflict of interest and hinder my ability to make judgments in the best interest of the organization, persons served, their family members, and/or significant others. I shall notify my supervisor of potential or existing conflicts of interest.
- Professional Competence. I shall perform only those functions for which I am qualified by education, training, or experience. I understand that I am expected to learn to perform new functions when reasonable training and supervision are provided by the organization. I may delegate to staff only those responsibilities that can reasonably be expected to be performed competently (either independently or with supervision provided) on the basis of his/her education, training, or experience. I shall ensure that the type and number of units of service delivered match the units of service billed and documented in the clinical record.
- Professional Development. I will strive for personal and professional growth to improve my effectiveness. I support the principle that to uphold high standards of professional practice and service requires on-going education and training to keep current with emerging knowledge. As a professional, I am responsible for contributing to the improvement of PRS services and practices. I, therefore, agree to attend staff trainings, in-service opportunities, and conferences to the maximum extent possible. I recognize my professional responsibility to add ideas, findings, concepts, understanding, knowledge, and practice to all PRS services.
- Privacy. I shall respect and ensure the privacy of clients and will discuss client information only for the purpose of rehabilitation, treatment, supervision, and consultation.
Some staff has access to private and potentially sensitive information about other staff (e.g. hiring, salary, evaluation, and personal information). I will maintain confidentiality of such information and discuss this information only when it is a function of my job duty. Within the chain of command, such private information shall only be discussed for the purpose of effective supervision.
I shall respect the privacy of fellow staff members, as well as that of colleagues in the community.
- Exercise of Civil Rights. Clients: I shall provide clients with information necessary to make informed choices; and I will inform them of opportunities to participate in public hearings, community forums, and other events in which clients’ needs and concerns are addressed. All client signatures on PRS documents are witnessed. PRS employees shall not witness non-PRS documents on behalf of clients.
Staff: I shall work to maintain the safety and integrity of the working environment. Whenever a staff member is injured or assaulted, or believes her/his rights have been violated by a client, fellow staff or any other person, staff retain the right to exercise all legal options, independent of agency support, at any time. If the staff person files charges, no retaliatory actions will be taken against him/her. In these situations, staff must consult with his/her supervisor regarding issues of confidentiality.
- Private Practice. I shall not use agency facilities, supplies, or equipment to support a private practice, consultation, or other non-PRS employment. I shall not use my position to refer, solicit, encourage, or accept clients of PRS into my own business or business of any other PRS staff member.
- Integrity, Dignity, and Corporate Citizenship. I understand that the integrity of PRS and its services depends upon the effort and conduct of each staff member who is part of the organization. I accept the responsibility to preserve and promote the integrity and corporate citizenship of all PRS services and to respect the dignity of all individuals. I will support and encourage the persons served to be active in the general community as well as the professional community, and will always advocate in the best interests of our clients in all clinical and community settings. I will recruit persons served into employment opportunities, when appropriate. Further, I will contribute to PRS’ efforts and activities to contribute to the community and support the communities where services are delivered in order to better address the needs of both the people we serve and the community.
I will be cognizant of the fact that even when I am off duty, my behavior may be interpreted as reflecting PRS. I, therefore, will always attempt to conduct myself in a manner that does not harm the excellent ethical and professional reputation that PRS maintains in the community. This behavior encompasses acting with professional ‘emotional intelligence’, including but not limited to the demonstrated ability to take ownership and responsibility for one’s workplace and professional behaviors and to modulate them to work effectively with others; the demonstrated ability to be open and receptive to candid feedback, new perspectives, and self-development; actively seeking unbiased feedback and being committed to addressing one’s most critical developmental needs; the demonstrated ability to stay composed, positive, and unflappable even in trying moments; by the demonstrated ability to admit and own mistakes and move forward in a positive manner; by the demonstrated ability to meet commitments and hold oneself accountable.
- Attitude. I acknowledge that a positive and proactive attitude always makes for a better workplace. I will always strive to seek mutually beneficial working relationships and positively contribute to the work environment. I understand and agree to forthrightly and directly deal with concerns and/or complaints with the most appropriate person, i.e. the person most responsible for my concerns. I agree to elevate concerns only after attempting to resolve them at the lowest appropriate level. I understand that it is best to resolve differences privately, and not to discuss concerns with clients, colleagues, and/or in public, including on social media. I agree that professional behavior does not include gossiping or making complaints in a public forum. Should I have a grievance regarding my employment, I understand that I must follow the Grievance policy, 500.25.
- Dual Relationships. Introduction: This code is intended to protect staff and clients from potential abuse, exploitation, or complications resulting from a power differential, which may interfere with the staff person’s ability to carry out her/his duties due to the inappropriate exercise of her/his influence.
With clients: I recognize my responsibility as a professional, and I shall give preference to my professional responsibility over any personal interest. Therefore, I shall ensure that my interactions with all clients will always be guided by my professional and rehabilitative responsibilities and never by personal interest.
I shall not exploit relationships for personal or professional gain by establishing social relationships with persons served, their family members, and/or significant others beyond the expectation of my job to the degree that such relationships could compromise the services provided to persons served or undermine my objectivity.
Establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries in the employee/client relationship is expected at all times. Business, sexual, and most social relationships with current clients or former clients of PRS are strictly prohibited. This prohibition applies to all staff up and down the chain of command. However, some limited involvement in social activities with current clients may occur, but only as a part of the client’s treatment and with a supervisor’s advance approval.
Participation in self-help or other groups involving self-disclosure must be pursued only with a satisfactory negotiation between the staff person and the client around boundaries and extent of participation. Such negotiations must prioritize considerations for the client’s needs, as balanced with those of the staff member, so that each obtains maximum benefit from their participation in such groups. It may be useful, but it is not required, to inform the supervisor of such relationships.
Staff is prohibited from having on their caseload a client with whom they previously had a social, sexual, or business relationship.
With staff: Sexual relationships with other staff, interns, students or anyone within one’s supervisory chain of command are strictly prohibited. Business relationships with other staff, interns, students or anyone within one’s supervisory chain of command are strongly discouraged, due to the potential for abuse, exploitation, or interpersonal conflict.
Members of PRS’ Leadership Team, by virtue of their role in providing oversight and leadership to the entire organization regardless of the department in which they work, have a broader and stricter dual relationship standard with staff, interns or students. For members of Leadership Team, dual relationships are considered to exist with everyone in the entire organization, regardless of department or chain of command.
As with clients, the involvement in self-help groups with another staff member within one’s chain of command shall be negotiated with the aim of maximizing benefit for both individuals.
If social relationships with staff within one’s supervisory chain of command are permitted, it is understood that the staff member with the greater authority must be alert and responsive to the issues of equal access for all supervisees and fairness in treatment of supervisees. Both supervisor and supervisee must respect and recognize that the professional relationship supersedes the social relationship.
In the hiring process, staff that select job applicants shall be sensitive to issues regarding conflict of interest. When a potential conflict of interest is identified, it must be discussed with the interviewer’s supervisor.
- Gifts, Personal Fundraising and Personal Benefit. Gifts received by staff members from clients shall always be discussed with the staff member’s supervisor in order to ensure that the gift is appropriate given the relationship between the staff member and the gift giver.
Clients shall not be asked to fundraise on behalf of PRS, although clients may choose to engage in such activity voluntarily (e.g. bake sale to support PRS programs).
Gifts given by staff, either to clients or subordinates, must be offered in such a manner that there is no demonstration of discrimination or favoritism.
No individual staff shall benefit from fundraising by the organization, nor shall any employee engage in personal fundraising activity at or with PRS. Employees may fundraise on behalf of other organizations with the prior written approval of the President and CEO. All fundraising activity to benefit PRS must be coordinated through the resource development department.
Any employee engaging in outside activity as a representative of PRS which may result in a fee or gift (e.g. completing a survey, conducting a presentation) may not personally benefit from such activity. Any gifts (e.g. gift card) or fees resulting from the employee’s activity shall be returned to PRS.
Lending money to clients is discouraged and shall occur only with a supervisor’s approval. Staff shall never borrow money from clients.
- Personal Property. All PRS employees shall respect and make all efforts to protect the personal property of clients, visitors and other employees, as well as the business property of PRS.
- Marketing. All PRS business and marketing materials shall accurately reflect the values, mission, goals, services, fees, outcomes and ethics of PRS and shall not misrepresent the organization, its staff, or the organization’s capabilities in any way. All business and marketing practices shall be consistent with this Code of Ethical Behavior.
- Human Resources. PRS and its employees shall follow all policies and procedures for hiring/firing, disciplining, assessing performance, supervising and training all of its employees, contractors, volunteers, students and interns.
- Relationships with Contractors and Subcontractors. PRS shall manage relationships with contractors and subcontractors in a fair and reasonable manner, consistent with all applicable laws and best business practices. PRS’ selection of contractors and subcontractors shall be made on the basis of objective criteria including quality, expertise, price and services and will not be made on the basis of personal relationships and friendships.
- Business. PRS and its staff shall follow all legal and ethical principles in conducting business and delivering services. This shall, at a minimum, include adherence to this Code of Ethical Behavior, professional codes of conduct, compliance with all established organizational policies and procedures, licensure regulations and all local, state and federal laws applicable to PRS and its employees.
- Prohibition of waste, fraud, abuse or other wrongdoing. PRS and its staff is prohibited from engaging in any activity that results in waste, fraud, abuse or other wrongdoing, and is expected at all times to fully comply with the organization’s corporate compliance policies and procedures.
- Social Media. PRS and its staff shall follow organization policies and procedures regarding use of social media. It is expected that when using personal social media, staff will communicate with honesty, integrity, and respect for the rights, privileges, privacy, sensibilities, and property of others, including other PRS employees and clients. Additionally, PRS expects that personal social media posts will follow PRS’ Code of Ethical Behavior as well as HIPAA and policies and regulations regarding privacy.
Communicating the Code of Ethical Behavior:
The Code of Ethical Behavior shall be given to persons served upon admission as a part of the Client Handbook and reviewed as a part of the initial client orientation. These steps apply to all CARF accredited programs, including Community Housing, Community Support Services, Employment Services and the Recovery Academy. All employees receive and sign the Code of Ethical Behavior upon hire, and it is reviewed annually during the employee’s annual performance evaluation.
Monitoring and Violations: Staff is responsible to monitor compliance with the Code of Ethical Behavior. Behavior that is in violation of the Code of Ethical Behavior shall be reported as soon as reasonably possible to the supervisor of the staff person who allegedly violated the code. If the supervisor is not available or accessible, then it shall be reported to another supervisor in that staff person’s chain. No reprisal of any kind shall be taken against any individual who, in good faith, reports violations of PRS’ Code of Ethical Behavior.
The supervisor shall investigate the alleged violation and ensure that if a client is involved he/she is not in danger of injury and/or continued exploitation. The supervisor shall submit a written report describing the facts involved in the situation. This report shall include the names of all persons involved or witnesses, the date and time of the alleged violation, and the circumstances immediately preceding the violation. The supervisor shall include her/his actions taken and any future actions that will be taken towards both the staff person involved and the client involved. This report shall be submitted to the Chief Operating Officer within two business days of the supervisor being informed of the alleged violation.
The Chief Operating Officer shall review the report and add any additional actions that she/he will take and submit the report to the President and Chief Executive Officer as soon as reasonably possible. If further investigation is warranted or requested by any person involved or any person who witnessed the violation of the Code of Ethical Behavior, President and Chief Executive Officer will determine the next course of action. Violations of these ethical guidelines may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.