In-service rules

In-service conflict of interest rules at a glance*

The Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006 (PSOA) sets out conflict of interest rules that establish standards of ethical conduct for public servants. Regulation 381/07 sets out the specific conflict of interest rules applicable to employees in ministries (except ministers’ staff) and employees and appointees in public bodies. There are two sets of rules, one for individuals currently employed in the public service (in-service), and one for individuals after they leave the public service (post-service). This document deals with in-service rules.

Benefiting self, spouse or children

Public servants can’t use their positions for personal benefit or for the benefit of their spouses or children.

 Accepting gifts

Public servants shouldn’t accept gifts from anyone who does business with or wants to do business with the Ontario government.  Public servants also shouldn’t accept gifts from companies or individuals if the government provide services to them. “Gifts” include anything from gift baskets to free tickets or dinners. In some cases, a public servant may accept a gift of nominal value provided that it is given as an expression of courtesy or hospitality.

Disclosing confidential information

Public servants are not allowed to disclose confidential information without authorization nor use confidential information for personal benefit.

Giving preferential treatment

Public servants should not provide any preferential treatment to individuals or groups, nor provide assistance other than that given in the ordinary course of their public service duties. Public servants must also avoid creating the appearance that they are giving preferential treatment.

Hiring family members

Public servants can’t hire their spouses, children, parents, brothers or sisters. Public servants are also subject to rules regarding supervising their family members.

Engaging in business

Public servants can’t engage in business or undertakings (including sitting on boards and volunteer activities) outside their public servant roles if doing so would influence or conflict with their duties as public servants. That means, for example, not doing “outside” work on government time. And, even on their own time, public servants can’t use government premises, equipment or supplies for outside activities.

Participating in decision-making

In cases where public servants could benefit from a decision to be made, they must disclose that interest and they may not be allowed to participate in the decision-making process.

Declaring financial interests

Some public servants must disclose certain financial interest and may be prohibited from acquiring financial interests related to their duties as public servants.


* These Rules at a Glance are provided for information only. For the authoritative text, refer to the Public Service of Ontario Act, 2006, and regulations.

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