Code of Practice
Written rules or guidelines that provide direction to people working in a particular field or profession.
Code of Practice Details
A code of practice is an important guideline for professionals in any field since it outlines expectations for their conduct while practicing. For people working in each industry, the code of practice provides a clear picture of obligations and eliminates any ambiguity in violation cases. The term code of practice is used interchangeably with codes of conduct.
Professional associations or unified organizations form codes of practice after agreeing that those working in the field should act in a certain way. Since most of these associations and organizations develop these codes indepdently, they operate without government regulation.
Most organizations follow predetermined codes of practice or adapt them to their processes as a form of self-regulation. The main purpose of codes of practice is to facilitate better work operations and reasonable fulfillment of duties. The format for codes of practice differ across industries, but they often include the following aspects:
- Details of ethical principles;
- Specifications of standards of practice;
- Values and accountability of professionals;
- Disciplinary actions.
Real World Example of Code of Practice
Certified professionals in every field are educated on the codes of practice they are expected to follow. In the United Kingdom, Social Care Workers must follow a mandatory code of practice if they wish to continue practicing in the field. The codes of practice for social care workers in the UK states that all workers must:
- Uphold the rights and interests of carers and service users with utmost reverence;
- Earn and maintain the trust and confidence of all interested parties;
- Promote independence of service users and protect them from harm always;
- Treat service users with respect, uphold their rights, and ensure they don’t harm others;
- Present a positive picture of social care services to earn public trust and confidence;
- Act accountably and responsibly while administering work duties.
These codes of practice detail what industry professionals expect them to accomplish and specify goals they should strive towards. Generally, the codes of practice work best as targets for achieving best practice and raising standards within the field.
Code of Practice vs. Code of Ethics
Code of practice is often confused with code of ethics, another relevant aspect in business operations. A code of ethics refers to the principles that all professionals within a business should adhere to diligently to guarantee efficiency.
While codes of ethics can be universal, such as confidentiality, integrity, honesty, or professionalism, they differ from one organization to another. For example, legal practitioners are expected to always act in clients' best interest, a pivotal aspect of the legal code of ethics. For a lawyer, prioritizing the affairs of the client is a reflection of best practice. However, for financial professionals such as auditors, the client’s best interests are secondary to the law.
Yet, despite small differences, codes of ethics are almost comparable across most industries or professionals. Recently, commitments to climate change and sustainability are some popular codes of ethics.