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Guide to Workplace Conduct

Here are some "Dos and Don'ts" for Executive Department employees.

This section covers some policies that are otherwise not covered on the Absence & Leave page.

Table of Contents

Code of Conduct and Mutual Respect

Codes of Conduct

Managers' behavior is governed by the Manager Code of Conduct.

The code of conduct provides guidance on issues including:

  • violations of law including being arrested or convicted of a crime at work or in private life
  • conflict of interest - accepting gifts or compensation for something that is part of their normal job duties.
  • giving an appearance of undue influence
  • disclosing confidential information learned in state position
  • After leaving employment working for vendors with state business
  • Use of state seal and letterhead
  • having drugs or alcohol in the workplace
  • use their status as a state employee  to obtain personal advantages or to influence any action not associated with their official duties.

The behavior of bargaining unit employees are covered by individual codes of contact that vary by bargaining unit.  Please see applicable union contract.

Mutual Respect

Some collective bargaining agreements contain language on "mutual respect" that address unacceptable behavior in the workplace.  Behaviors that contribute to a hostile, humiliating, or intimidating work environment, including abusive language or behavior, are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

Collective Bargaining Agreements (see "Mutual Respect" clause, if any)

Professionalism and Dress Code

State employees are expected to act professionally towards all internal and external customers and provide good customer service.

Some agencies have implemented dress codes.  If you are uncertain if your agency has a dress code, please contact your agency's Human Resources office.


Conflict of Interest

Gifts valued $50 or more

  • State employees may not accept anything of value from someone that is valued at over $50 (or something the average citizen would need to pay more than $50 to receive)


  • State employees may not hire, supervise, or make any employment decisions affecting a family member.  Applicants for state employment must disclose the names and relationships of family members employed by the state under the Sunshine Law.

Appearance of a conflict

  • State employees cannot participate in any state matters which might financially benefit themselves or a family member.  The State Ethics Commission offers advice to employees who are in a situation that could be construed as having an unfair advantage because of their state employment.


For more information, please see the website of the State Ethics Commission

Multiple Jobs and working after Retirement

Holding more than one state job

Generally state employees may not hold more than one job at any time, with some special exceptions made.  Teaching on a part-time at a state college or university outside the regular work hours in addition to working another state job is allowed under certain circumstances.


After hours work or moonlighting

There can be conflicts of interest in paid and unpaid work a state employee perform outside their state job.  When in doubt on whether any activities are appropriate, contact the State Ethics Commission for guidance.


Working after Retirement

There are work restrictions for state employees who retire and receive a pension and then return to work for the state in the same or different agency from which they retired.  There is a maximum number of hours they can work during a calendar year (960 hours - also know as 120 day appointments) and maximum earnings based on their last salary when employed full-time.  There are penalties if the employee exceeds the allowed number of hours or ceiling on compensation.  Post-retirees and agencies that may employ them should thoroughly read the Post-Employment Retirement Guidelines to ensure a successful assignment.


Political Activities

State employees can and do run for office on many different levels, but they have fundraising restrictions

Employees may not use work time or resources to support or run for political office or supporting fundraisers.  Employees may not use any social media tools to invite people to fundraising events or to raise any funds.

State employees are prohibited during work and non-work hours from soliciting or receiving any campaign donations.

See the Memo Regarding Restrictions on Political Activity from the Governor’s Chief Legal Counsel.

The Office of Campaign and Political Finance is a great resource if you have any questions.

Additional Resources   for Ethics

Smoking, Alcohol, and Drugs


State law prohibits smoking in public workplaces. Smoking includes the lighting of a cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco product or possessing a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or other tobacco or non-tobacco product designed to be combusted and inhaled.

Smoking shall be prohibited in workplaces, work spaces, common work areas, classrooms, conference and meeting rooms, offices, elevators, hallways, medical facilities, cafeterias, employee lounges, staircases, restrooms, restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, food courts or concessions.

State Buildings also have rules against smoking while on state property.

Law against smoking on state property

Drugs and Alcohol

Employees are not allowed to be intoxicated, possess or use legal or illegal drugs or alcohol at the workplace.

Drug-Free Workplace Act

State agencies receiving at least $100k in federal funding must adhere to the Drug-Free Workplace Act.

This includes publishing a statement notifying employees that the unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in a workplace and specifying the actions that will be taken against employees for violation of such prohibition.

Comptroller of the Commonwealth

IT Acceptable Use Policy


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment of employees occurring in the workplace or in other settings related to their employment is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the Commonwealth.

Sexual Harassment Policy

Sexual Harassment Investigation and Complaint Procedures

Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination

Sexual Harassment Officers List

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment means sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

(a) Submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions; or,

(b) Such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

Other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a work place environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating, or humiliating to male or female workers may also constitute sexual harassment.

Policy of Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

See Leave Benefits for Violence Survivors


Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, and Stalking in the Workplace

Additional Resources   for Harassment

Weapons in the Workplace


To ensure safety for all, weapons are not allowed in the workplace.  An exception is made for public safety personnel who require specialized equipment to perform their job duties.

Workplace Violence

The state has a zero tolerance for employee behavior involving physical assault and/or battery including the following activities:

  • Making threats and/or doing intimidating actions which cause an employee to be in fear for the  physical safety for themselves or another.
  • Exhibiting disruptive or aggressive behavior that places a reasonable person in fear of physical harm and/or that causes a disruption of workplace productivity; and/or
  • Employee actions which result in property damage



Additional Resources   for Weapons in the Workplace

Time and Attendance Policy

Check with your agency to get your specific policy

There is an Executive Department Time and Attendance Policy that covers all Executive department employees. 

Please note each state agency has issued their own time and attendance policy modeled after the Executive Department version but with information custom to their agency.

The policy covers topics including:

  • Importance of all employees recording time accurately
  • Requirements for Self-Service Time and Attendance (SSTA)
  • Agency Record keeping requirements

Key Actions   for Time and Attendance Policy

Human Trafficking and Related Activities

Executive Order 568 establishes a zero tolerance policy for Human Trafficking and Related Activities. The Executive Order applies to all state agencies subject to the Governor’s control.  The Human Resources Division (HRD) has been charged with issuing a policy that will apply to all full-time or part-time employees employed by agencies subject to the Executive Order.

Zero Tolerance Policy for Human Trafficking and Related Activities



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