Is code of conduct training mandatory?

Like all other compliance training, code of conduct training is a mandatory course (or series of courses) that must be completed by every employee—including contractors and contingent workers—regardless of their role, position level, or tenure in the organization. But if you’re an E&C professional, chances are you will still field questions from employees about why they need to take the training. And the answer isn’t as simple as “Because I said so.”

People appreciate context. So, the next time someone asks you if code of conduct training is mandatory, here are some responses you can share to help them see the bigger picture. 

Why is code of conduct training mandatory? 

Like all other compliance training, code of conduct training is a mandatory course (or series of courses) that must be completed by every employee, regardless of their role in the organization. That means contractors and contingent workers in your company are also expected to receive training.

This is largely influenced by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC), whose Chapter Eight guidelines on the federal sentencing of organizations dictate that “the existence of an effective compliance and ethics program” can “mitigate the ultimate punishment of an organization” accused of wrongdoing. In short: companies that can point to mandatory compliance training are more likely to receive reduced penalties or fines if they’re being investigated or sued. 

Guidance from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) also notes that “...prosecutors should examine whether the company has a code of conduct that sets forth, among other things, the company’s commitment to full compliance with relevant Federal laws that is accessible and applicable to all company employees.” By training employees on how the company code of conduct relates to their role and where they can locate it, you help ensure that your code is accessible and applicable to everyone. 

How does conduct of conduct training apply to my industry, though? 

You are probably already aware that many industries have mandatory compliance training for their employees. However, you may be wondering whether this applies to your industry. The answer is yes, and here's why: The USSC notes that the federal sentencing guidelines, which underscore the importance of having an effective compliance program, apply to all employers—including private and public corporations, partnerships, labor unions, pension funds, trusts, non-profit entities, and governmental units.

But while code of conduct training for manufacturing, finance, healthcare, and other industry professionals is a legal requirement, it’s important to remember that it’s also a duty of care. Without this education, employees could end up mishandling sensitive data or performing tasks that put themselves or others at risk for injury if done incorrectly. Proper training helps prevent misconduct, intentional and accidental, that could negatively impact employees, customers, and the company at large. (By the way, you can try out LRN’s code of conduct training for free.) 

How does completing this type of training benefit me? It seems like a waste of time. 

Completing code of conduct training might seem like a waste of time to employees, but the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. According to the US Sentencing Commission, organizations with comprehensive code training programs may be able to avoid up to 95% of potential fines and penalties assessed for violations of federal law.

Code of conduct training is not only an important part of your company’s compliance strategy, but also an effective way to ensure that all employees have up-to-date information on the policies, rules, and values of their organization. Training can help employees understand that how they do something at work is just as important as what they do. Training can also explain how to avoid conflicts of interest or potential forms of misconduct, so everyone can do their jobs well while preventing any situations that could lead to legal trouble. Additionally, code training can teach employees how to file a report if they witness or experience misconduct, which can help protect themselves and their coworkers. 

The key takeaway 

When you think about the benefits of code of conduct training, it’s easy to see that it’s money well spent. Although mandatory, this type of compliance training helps protect your company from fines and penalties—even prosecution—by making sure everyone understands what is expected of them. It also emphasizes to employees that your company is committed to treating them fairly and giving them outlets to speak up.

If you're an employer who wants your employees to know what's expected from them in terms of behavior and ethics, then this type of training is a must. You can try out LRN’s code of conduct training for free today or check out our resources for writing or refreshing your company code of conduct.