- General Policy
- Objectives of the Code of Business Ethics
- Principles of the Code of Business Ethics
- Guidelines regarding Gifts or Hospitality
It is the policy of Bus Éireann to maintain its high reputation for ethical behaviour and fair dealing in the conduct of its business.
In many cases decisions as to what is ethical or fair are clear cut and will be obvious to any reasonable person. In some situations, however, there may be circumstances where an element of doubt or ambiguity arises. To help in those circumstances and to protect and guide individual board directors of Bus Éireann it is necessary to have a written Code of Business Ethics.
It is not possible to provide for every situation in the Code of Business Ethics. If there is doubt about the probity of any particular situation, the Chairperson must be consulted about that situation by the individual concerned.
In addition to the requirement for Board Member or director to behave in an ethical manner, there is also a requirement for them to comply with the requirements of the Companies Acts and other relevant legislative requirements and in the case of each person holding a designated directorship within a state body, to comply with relevant provisions of the Ethics in Public Office Act, 1995 and the Standards in Public Office Act, 2001.
Objectives of the Code of Business Ethics
The objectives of the Code of Business Ethics are:
- to offer guidance to Bus Éireann board directors in their business conduct;
- to establish an agreed set of ethical principles;
- the promotion and maintenance of confidence and trust in Bus Éireann and
- to prevent the development and acceptance of unethical practices by Bus Éireann
The Code of Business Ethics applies to all directors of the company.
Principles of the Code of Business Ethics
The guiding principles of the Code of Business Ethics can be summarised under seven headings:
- Confidentiality of Information;
- Disclosure of interest;
- Fairness; and
- Consideration for Work/External Environment.
Each board director of Bus Éireann is expected to observe the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all his/her business dealings.
To this end, as a board director, one must:
- commit to compete vigorously and energetically but also ethically and honestly;
- ensure that purchasing activities of goods/services are conducted in accordance with best business practice and in accordance with the company’s procurement policy;
- ensure a culture of claiming expenses only as appropriate to business needs and in accordance with good practice in the public sector generally;
- ensure that the company’s accounts/reports accurately reflect its business performance and are not misleading or designed to be misleading;
- refuse bribes, gifts, hospitality, benefits or offers of preferential treatment which may affect one’s ability to make independent judgement, and report any such approaches in writing to the Chairperson;
- avoid misrepresenting one’s position or being ambiguous or misleading;
- reject any business practice which might reasonably be deemed to be improper;
- avoid the use of the company’s resources or time for personal gain, for the benefit of persons/organizations unconnected with Bus Éireann or its activities or for the benefit of competitors;
- commit not to acquire information or business secrets by improper means;
- not abuse travel facilities or other privileges; and
- whilst acting in his/her capacity as a board director of Bus Éireann , not act in a manner which could bring the reputation of Bus Éireann into disrepute.
Confidentiality of Information
The company is not yet obliged to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act, 1997. Any requests for information pursuant to the Act from third parties (including the Department of Transport) must be referred to the Company Secretary who will, in turn, pass the request to the Group Secretary,
Board directors of Bus Éireann should also be mindful of the company’s obligations under the Data Protection Act, 1988 and the Data Protection (Amendment) Act 2003 and any requests for or regarding information held by the Group which is subject to the provisions of these Acts should also be referred, in the first instance, to the Group Secretary.
Board directors of Bus Éireann must, however, support the provision of access by the company to general information relating to the company’s activities in a way that is open and that enhances its accountability to the general public. However, the company’s “Guidelines on the Release of Information” must be followed in this context. In an effort to provide information to the public, Bus Éireann publishes information on its activities and performance on its web site which is regularly updated.
Every board director of Bus Éireann owes a duty of confidentiality to the company in respect of sensitive information held by the company. Sensitive information would include, for example:
- any information relating to Bus Éireann which is not public information;
- commercially sensitive/business information (including information relating to business policies or practices);
- any information relating to Bus Éireann which is designated by it to be confidential;
- personal information; and
- information received in confidence by the company.
Board directors are required to ensure that any sensitive information which they obtain by reason of their board directorship is not disclosed and/or mis-used, whether by competitors of Bus Éireann or otherwise. In order to protect such information, board directors are required to:
- ensure that such information is properly safeguarded;
- exercise due care in communicating such information having due regard for the company’s “Guidelines on the Release of Information”;
- avoid using such information for personal gain; and
- observe appropriate prior consultation procedures with third parties where, exceptionally, Bus Éireann is obliged by law or any regulatory authority, or otherwise, in the public interest, to disclose sensitive information
Board directors are reminded that Section 22 of the Transport (Re-Organisation of Córas Iompair Éireann) Act, 1986, includes a specific duty not to disclose confidential information unless authorised by the board or by some person authorised in that behalf by the board. Confidential information is defined in the Act as that which is expressed to be confidential either as regards particular information or as regards information of a practical class or description. Breach of this statutory duty is an offence which attracts a fine on summary conviction.
Board directors must remember that their duty of confidentiality does not cease when their board directorship ends. The acceptance of further board memberships or employment where the potential for conflict arises should be avoided during a reasonable period of time after the exercise of their function in Bus Éireann has ceased. In this regard board directors should be mindful of the company’s “Post Termination of Employment Guidelines”.
Board directors should not retain documentation obtained during their terms as board director and should return such documentation to the Company Secretary or otherwise indicate to the Company Secretary that all such documentation in their possession has been disposed of in an appropriate manner. In the event that former board directors require access to board papers or board minutes from the time of their term on the board, this can be facilitated by the Company Secretary.
In order to ensure through one’s business dealings compliance by Bus Éireann with all applicable Government Guidelines, Irish and EU legislation, board directors are required, to the extent that it is within their power, to:
- fulfil all regulatory and supervisory obligations imposed on CIÉ;
- comply with the provisions of the Transport Acts, the Ethics in Public Office Act, the Standards in Public Office Act and the Companies Acts which are relevant to them as directors;
- co-operate with relevant regulatory and supervisory bodies;
- avoid false, inaccurate or misleading entries in records;
- ensure that taxation and welfare legislation is upheld by the company;
- ensure that Bus Éireann does not engage in “offensive” tax avoidance transactions (meaning transactions involving uses of the tax code for a purpose other than for which it is intended by the State (including an unintended use of a tax incentive) with a view to reducing the amount of tax to be paid by the company or a party to a transaction in which Bus Éireann participates);
- ensure one’s actions comply with relevant contractual obligations;
- encourage effective and fair competition at all times;
- ensure that the company’s purchasing and tendering procedures and prescribed levels of authority for sanctioning any relevant expenditure are complied with;
- avoid engaging in any illegal or criminal activities;
- comply with controls to prevent fraud including adequate controls to ensure compliance with prescribed procedures in relation to claiming expenses for business travel;
- comply with procedures relating to conflict of interest situations including those relating to:
- post resignation / retirement from board directorship and
- appointment and/or consultancy of board directors by the private sector;
in order to avoid the acceptance of positions following board directorship which could give rise to the potential for conflicts of interest and to confidentiality concerns; and
- comply with the company’s policy on discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying.
Board directors should use their reasonable endeavours to attend all board meetings and where appropriate, committee meetings.
Disclosure of Interests
Board directors are required to comply with the provisions relating to disclosure of interests by directors set out in:
- Section 7(6)(c) of the Transport Act 1950,
- Section 20 of the Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Act 1977,
- Section 21 of the Transport (Re-organisation of Coras Iompair Eireann) Act 1986,
- Sections 190, 193, 194 and 195 of the Companies Act 1963,
- Part III of the Companies Act 1990 as amended by Part 9 of the Company Law Enforcement Act 2001,
- Section 17 of the Ethics in Public Office Act 1995,
- Section 23 of the Standards in Public Office Act 2001 (where relevant),
- the disclosure requirements set out in Section 6 to the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Bodies,
- the procedures relating to disclosure of interests established by the Board; and
- the procedures set out in this Code.
Board directors are required to disclose to the Company Secretary details of outside employment/business interests or interests of any of their family members which are or may be in conflict or in potential conflict with businesses of Bus Éireann. Where a conflict of interest situation could arise for a board member director, he/she must desist from dealing with the contract or situation giving rise to the conflict or potential conflict of interest and may not attempt in any way to influence decisions on the matter.
Board directors must:
- acknowledge the responsibility to be loyal to Bus Éireann and fully committed in all its business activities while mindful that the organisation itself must at all times take into account the interests of its shareholder; and
- acknowledge the duty of all to conform to highest standards of business ethics.
Board directors must:
- comply and ensure compliance by Bus Éireann with employment equality and equal status legislation;
- commit and ensure that Bus Éireann commits to fairness in all business dealings; and
- value customers and passengers and treat all customers and passengers equally and encourage all company employees to do likewise.
Consideration for Work/External Environment
Board directors must:
- ensure that Bus Éireann employees place highest priority on promoting and preserving their own health and safety as well as that of fellow employees, customers and other third parties with whom they come in contact in the course of their employment;
- ensure that community concerns are fully considered; and
- minimise any detrimental impact of company operations on the environment.
This Code of Business Ethics which incorporates the policy on disclosure of interests has been circulated to all board directors who must retain, acknowledge receipt of and confirm their understanding of same.
This Code of Business Ethics will be reviewed at least every two years.
Guidelines regarding Gifts or Hospitality
Board directors should, in their capacity as board directors, subject to the procedures outlined below, avoid the giving or receiving of corporate gifts, hospitality, preferential treatment or benefits which might affect or appear to affect the ability of the donor or the recipient to make an independent judgement on business transactions.
Board directors may accept corporate gifts from suppliers to or contractors who have worked for Bus Éireann provided:
- the gift is unsolicited;
- the gift is one of very small intrinsic value (e.g. diary, calendar, bottle of wine/spirits etc.);
- the value of such gifts accepted in a year from any one source does not exceed €130; and
- gifts with a value exceeding €70 are disclosed to the Bus Éireann board in the case of the Bus Éireann Chairperson or to the Chairperson in the case of board directors.
In all other cases, the gift should be returned to the sender, with a note advising that acceptance would be contrary to company policy. Details of returned gifts must be notified at once to the Chairperson.
Modest hospitality (including sporting events and golf outings) may be accepted by board directors in their capacity as such, provided:
- the frequency and scale of hospitality is not more than the Company might be expected to give in return;
- the number of Bus Éireann staff or board directors availing of the hospitality is kept to a minimum; and
- invitations do not include the provision of travel or overnight accommodation and availing of the hospitality does not identify Bus Éireann in a public way with any particular supplier or contractor.
Independent Professional Advice
When any board director (or group of board directors) of Bus Éireann considers that circumstances have arisen where it would be inappropriate for him/her/them to consult Bus Éireann professional advisers and he/she/they consider that, in the furtherance of his/her/their duties, there is a need for independent professional advice, in such cases, board directors should follow the relevant procedures which have been circulated to them or which are available from the Company Secretary.
Note: Breaches of this Code of Business Ethics will be dealt with by the Chairperson.