5.2.3 Consulting & Other Outside Activities

Policy Section: Conditions of Employment

Policy Number and Title: 5.2.3 Consulting & Other Outside Activities
Applicable to: All Administrative & Support Staff Employees
Effective Date: December 14, 2015
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Contacts: hr@princeton.edu, 8-3300
Responsible Executive: Lianne Sullivan-Crowley, Vice President for Human Resources
Responsible Office: Office of Human Resources
Last Update: January 12, 2009

Policy Description

Princeton University recognizes that many nonfaculty employees have expertise, talents, and knowledge which have value to outside organizations — public and private. Association with outside organizations can benefit the client or organization served, contribute to the professional growth and/or reputation of the employee as well as bring credit and goodwill to the University.

Application of This Policy

The following is intended to provide guidance concerning the appropriateness of such activities. 
Professional Activities
1.   There is a large area of professional activities, generally related to the individual's position at the University that does not present a conflict of interest. These activities serve to increase job-related skills and expertise and/or provide direct benefit to Princeton University. These activities include:
  1. participation in work-related conferences, seminars, professional associations, advisory panels, visiting committees and the like; and
  2. service as a trustee, director or advisor of an external organization at the request of Princeton University.
Generally, these activities are part of the individual's job, carried out during normal working hours with full use of University resources, such as office supplies and secretarial support. If these activities require a substantial time commitment, the employee should discuss the situation with and receive permission from his or her supervisor.
Employees who are invited to serve on advisory or other boards of organizations as a direct result of their positions may serve on these boards and also may receive remuneration from the organization and/or reimbursement for related travel or other expenses from the organization provided they have disclosed the relationship to their supervisors and obtained prior approval. Travel expenses may be paid by the University only when employees do not receive remuneration.
Outside Volunteer Activities

2.   Outside volunteer activities in connection with nonpartisan public service can also contribute to University goals as well as provide valuable public and personal benefit. Primary commitment belongs to the University, however, and these activities should be scheduled so as not to interfere with one's regular University work commitments.

Employees should refrain from any actions on behalf of these outside organizations where the interests of the University and the organizations are, or could appear to be, in conflict. Even in connection with the most worthy activities, employees should take care not to imply that they are speaking for the University.

In general, activities on behalf of nonpartisan public service are not considered to be part of one's job and therefore should not, except on an occasional basis, be carried out during normal working hours or involve the use of University resources, such as secretarial support or office supplies. 

Outside Income Sources or Activities or Interests
3.  Employees may also have outside income sources or be involved in outside activities or interests that do not affect, either directly or by appearance, the University. These activities are not considered part of one's job and may not be carried out during normal working hours, interfere with employees performing their jobs or involve the use of any University resources.1
Outside Professional and Other Activities

4.   There are also outside professional and other activities that do not fall neatly into the categories described above (strictly work-related, nonpartisan public service and strictly non-work-related). An employee may decide to participate in some outside professional or business activities primarily because the activity provides financial or personal benefits to the employee (even though there are some recognizable benefits to the University.) 

In these situations, an employee's primary obligation is to the University and the individual must be sensitive to and avoid any situation where either the extent or type of activity could, either directly or by appearance, limit the employee's impartiality or effectiveness in the conduct of one's University position

Risk or Appearance of Conflict of Interest
Consulting arrangements (with or without pay) or other outside business interests where there is a risk of conflict of interest or serious appearance of conflict must be disclosed to one's supervisor.
Other personal or outside business relationships that may affect one's decision-making and/or have the potential for dividing loyalty must be reviewed with one's supervisor. For example, disclosure is required when an employee has an ownership interest in or is receiving a second income from a company whose product or service is used by the University and the use of this product or service can be directly or indirectly influenced by the employee's responsibilities at Princeton. Another example may occur when the employee has administrative responsibilities, e.g., purchasing, at Princeton and at the other affiliation.
Further, the employee should be aware that if there is financial benefit or reward for themselves or others with whom there is a personal relationship, the potential for conflict of interest or divided loyalty increases substantially.2 
Paid Consulting Leave
Employees with outside consulting activities may request from their supervisor a paid consulting leave of one day per month. Consulting leave which exceeds one day per month must be approved by the Vice President of Human Resources on the recommendation of the supervisor.

1 The following are guidelines on the use of University resources for employees who have outside businesses or other non-work related activities.
  1. Employees should avoid using their offices, staff (including their own time during normal working hours), specialized office equipment, copiers, office supplies, facsimile machines, PC's, telephone or computer systems for non-University-related activities. While there may be some occasional instances when business related correspondence or the like is received at the University office, employees should not routinely use that office for the conduct of outside business.
  2. Employees should avoid inappropriate use of their University positions. For example, employees should not distribute or use for personal gain, information not generally available to members of the public which is acquired by reason of the employee's official duties. Similarly, employees should not receive compensation for distributing University information which is generally available.
2 It is not possible to define a precise and comprehensive test on conflict of interest. The following questions highlight certain situations where conflict of interest may occur. If you answer affirmatively to any of these questions or if your situation raises other concerns that you are uncomfortable with, you should review the particulars with your supervisor.
  1. Will the decisions made by the person in the consulting or business position influence or appear to influence action taken by the University and vice versa?
  2. Are there individuals, organizations, businesses, entities or other affiliations that can reasonably be expected to deal with the employee in both positions?
  3. Does the department in which the employee works provide any funding directly or indirectly to the outside position? When employing or engaging others in outside activities, employees must avoid a conflict of interest, or appearance of a conflict of interest. Refer to all policies in section 5.2 Conflict of Interest and policy 2.1.5 Hiring Members of the Same Family or Household.
  4. Does your business and/or consulting services compete or appear to compete with similar services normally provided by Princeton University?Employees must not use their Princeton University affiliations or positions to influence, directly or indirectly, outside organizations or individuals for the financial, personal or professional benefits of themselves, members of their families or others with whom there are personal relationships.
  5. Is there a conflict of time commitment?
If no conflict of interest exists, a determination may still need to be made concerning conflict of time commitment. 

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