Distinguishing the NRC processes relating to values and ethics matters



To provide preliminary guidance in the process selection for individuals with concerns related to values and ethics (V&E) matters at the NRC.

This document provides an overview of the various categories under which V&E concerns may arise. It provides general information regarding confidentiality considerations, the responsible manager, the role of the person raising the concern, the initiation process, and relevant links.

Some concerns, including complaints, touch on more than one area. The NRC seeks to ensure that all concerns get heard through the appropriate approach. In most cases (except occupational safety and health), a particular set of facts can be used to support a concern under only one category at a time. For example, an employee cannot have simultaneous grievance and harassment processes underway based on the same facts. A sequential approach is sometimes possible, but will depend on the circumstances. An employee with two distinct concerns based on different facts may pursue those two concerns simultaneously, even if different processes are required to address each concern.

Common routes to express concerns include:

Harassment: concerns relating to improper conduct by an employee that is directed at and offensive to the complainant and that the employee knew or reasonably ought to have known would cause offense or harm.

Occupational safety and health: concerns relating to an employee who believes that there has been or is likely to be a contravention of the Canada Labour Code (CLC) or that there is likely to be an accident or injury to health arising out of, linked with or occurring in the course of employment. This mandatory approach is aimed at ensuring that employees' health and safety concerns are addressed by the employer without the employee needing to initiate refusal-to-work protection. The complainant does not need to be the person at risk. This process can occur in parallel to other concern resolution processes.

Research misconduct: concerns relating to conduct by an NRC researcher within or outside the NRC or by any individual working with the NRC or using NRC funding which is inconsistent with the requirements of the NRC Research Integrity Policy. By way of example, this includes data irregularities, improper research practices, publication or authorship irregularities, and irregularities in research-related finances.

Grievance: concerns relating to an employee who feels aggrieved by the interpretation or application of a provision of a statute, or of a regulation, by-law, direction or other instrument made or issued by the employer, dealing with terms and conditions of employment; or by a provision of a collective agreement or an arbitral award (s of Human Resources Manual (HRM).

Wrongdoing under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act: concerns relating serious wrongdoing falling within the definition in the Act where a finding of wrongdoing could affect confidence in the broader public service. While primarily intended for use in situations where existing public servants are reporting wrongdoing, there is provision for members of the general public to use the same mechanism to report wrongdoing. Where the complainant is not a public servant or the proper disclosure route is not followed, the full protective force of the legislation may not apply. Potential complainants should explore these factors with the Registrar of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner's Office (1‑866‑941‑6400) prior to formally filing a complaint.

General allegations of impropriety: concerns relating processes allegations not addressed by the above which fall short of the standards of behaviour expected of employees. Examples would include conflicts of interest and behaviour clearly inconsistent with the applicable code of conduct.

Area of Concern Confidentiality Responsible Manager Complainant's Role Initiation Process Key Considerations
Harassment Confidential to parties and those supporting the process – inappropriate discussion of the complaint or findings by any party may result in disciplinary or other action Secretary General / Senior Ethics Officer Party to process, witness, receives a copy of decision Complaint should be submitted to the Corporate Secretariat or the Secretary General: It should contain an itemized list of allegations, addressing each of the requirements of the NRC policy requirements from the relevant time period. One or more specific events which support the allegation should be listed under each allegation. If there is documentary evidence for any actions listed in the bullet points, it may be provided at this stage. Such documents will only be considered to the extent that the link between the documents and the allegations is made clear and the section of each document is identified (page and paragraph). Alternatively, documentation can be held back and provided to the investigator if a decision is made to investigate the allegations. The scope of harassment is narrow as it requires the nexus of improper behaviour, direction at the complainant (not another person), to have caused offense or harm to the complainant, and to have known, or ought to have known, that the behaviour would cause offense or harm.

Policy on harassment prevention and conflict resolution (2016)
Contact: NRC.Ethics-Ethique.CNRC@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca
Occupational safety and health Mandatory, non-confidential VP-BPS, Executive Director HSE Branch Participates in investigation, may be asked to provide recommendations Contact with the business unit manager who may need to submit an Hazardous Occurrence Investigation Reports (HOIR) or "Good Catch". In the event that the manager appears unresponsive, the employee should communicate directly with their OSH representative on alternative approaches. OSH reporting is a shared duty and any employee may raise a health and safety concern, and must report a contravention of the Canadian Labour Code (CLC). This process can occur in parallel to others.
Research misconduct Confidential to affected parties, and those supporting the process Chain of command in relevant business unit, decision with responsible VP Witness to alleged misconduct, will not be informed of process or result Discuss with business unit management (DG/ED). If this is inappropriate, send allegation(s) to the responsible VP or the Secretary General.

Complainants external to the NRC should submit their allegation(s) to the responsible VP or Secretary General.
Any person who receives credible allegations anonymously should report it to the responsible VP.

NRC Research Integrity Policy
Grievance Confidential to parties and those supporting the process – inappropriate discussion of the complaint or findings by any party may result in disciplinary or other action Chain of command in relevant business unit, although "all levels in the grievance procedure, except the final level, may be by-passed by the mutual consent of the NRC and the grievor" (s of HRM) Party to process, may make a request for corrective action in the grievance (s of HRM). Receives a copy of decision. If unwilling to accept response, grievor may submit the grievance to the next higher level. Employee submits the standard NRC Grievance Form to the designated person authorized to receive grievances at the institute/branch level (s, s of HRM). Every grievance shall contain a concise statement of the nature of each act or omission complained of including, where relevant, such reference to:
  1. the statute, regulation, by-law, direction or other instrument made or issued by the employer; or
  2. the collective agreement or arbitral award alleged to have been violated or misinterpreted and will identify the nature of the alleged violation or misinterpretation;
  3. the date or dates upon which each act or omission or other matter giving rise to the grievance occurred; and
  4. the corrective action requested by the aggrieved employee" (s of HRM)
The 25 day time limit may be extended by mutual agreement between the NRC and the grievor (s. of HRM).
Disclosure of wrongdoing under the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act Confidential – complainant identity not revealed by PSIC, but all those whose interests could be adversely affected will be informed of details of the allegations Public Sector Integrity Commissioner (PSIC); NRC Secretary General, NRC Senior Ethics Officer Witness and submit form. If complaint is investigated, the discloser will be notified of whether wrongdoing was found to have occurred. Employee completes the appropriate disclosure form and submits to the Public sector Integrity Commissioner, the NRC Secretary General, or the NRC Senior ethics Officer.

There is also an option to submit the disclosure form to the employee's manager or the NRC Senior Ethics Officer. In that case, the decision whether or not there is a basis for an investigation will be made within the NRC. Regardless of who the form is submitted to, the process is dictated by the Public Servants Disclosure Protection Act, primary authority for which lies with the Office of the Public Sector Integrity Commissioner. Thus, that office should be contacted for advice on the process and requirements.

Phone: 1-866-941-6400
Web pages:
FAQs for Disclosure of wrongdoing and Reprisal complaints

Disclosure Protection Act
General Allegations Typically confidential to those supporting the process. Findings and responses are generally known only to the involved managers and HR advisors. However, the person accused of wrongdoing will be provided with details of the allegations and an opportunity to respond. This may result in the identification of the complainant in some cases. Chain of Command in relevant business unit Witness to substantiate the need for an investigation. Typically no further involvement. Formal complaint sent to the manager of the employee alleged to have acted inappropriately, or further up that same line of command if there is a good reason why sending complaint to the direct manager is not appropriate.

The complaint should follow the same general structure as described for a harassment complaint, namely, high-level allegations limited to a specific type of wrong-doing, followed by subordinate bullet points identifying specific actions or instances (with date and time if available). These bullet points can be supported by documentation in a tabbed annex if desired, but if provided, the link between the documents and the allegations must be made very clear and the exact section of each document must be identified (page and paragraph).

This category of complaints is broad. The employee typically informs their manager or HR of their complaint. A preliminary assessment is conducted to determine if there is a need to investigate the allegations. If an investigation is undertaken it will be tailored to the specifics of the case. Management will consult with HR and take appropriate action if needed.

Code of conduct
NRC Policy on Conflict of Interest (COI) and Post-Employement

Related links