What is a conflict of interest?

A conflict of interest can be actual, potential or perceived and may arise where the direct or indirect personal interests of a UniSA employee conflicts with, is in opposition to, or appears or actually inappropriately influence how they undertake their obligations to UniSA.  It can be time limited or on-going.

The test is whether an independent observer may reasonably question the factors affecting the decisions or actions of an employee, and not whether they have in fact affected the decision or action.

Conflicts of interest are generally divided into two types:

  • Pecuniary (involving financial gain or loss), and
  • Non-pecuniary (personal interests of a non-financial nature which can be based on enmity or amity). These can be direct or indirect. For example, where the conflict is related to someone with whom the employee has a significant relationship (i.e. spouse, family member, associate or close friend).

Actual conflicts of interest arise when there is a direct conflict between an employee’s duties and responsibilities and their personal interests which influence the performance of those duties.

Potential conflicts of interest are where a conflict of interest may arise in the future due to personal interests conflicting with or influencing required University duties or responsibilities.

Perceived conflicts of interest include situations where it could be perceived, or appear to a reasonable person, that an employee’s personal interests could improperly or unduly influence the performance of their duties and responsibilities.

A personal interest is anything that can have an impact on an individual, or a person with whom the UniSA employee has a relationship or an association. Personal interests can bring benefit or disadvantage. The policy provides a range of examples of personal interests that may present a conflict of interest.

As employees of the University, we must all take responsibility for avoiding and preventing a conflict of interest in the performance of our duties and in our relationships with others. In the event that our duties may or do present a conflict of interest, an appropriate declaration must be made.