This Personnel Management Regulation (PMR) defines general standards of conduct for County employees.  Please also see related PMRs in this section associated with employee standards of conduct.


20.1 Code of Ethics
20.2 General Prohibitions
A. Discrimination Prohibited
B. Nepotism Prohibited
C. Anti-Fraternization
D. Retaliation Prohibited
20.3 Improper Political Activity
20.4 Maintenance of Confidential and/or Privileged Information
20.5 Outside Employment
20.6 Drug and/or Alcohol Use
20.7 Use of County Facilities or Property
20.8 Smoking Prohibited
20.9 Employee Responsibilities as Disaster Service Workers


20.1 Code of Ethics

A. Each officer, official and employee has an obligation to the citizens, to the people’s elected representatives and to fellow employees to meet the highest ethical and professional standards and to enhance the public’s respect and trust for the County government and its operations.

B. Employees of the County have responsibilities unique from their counterparts in private industry. Employment with the County carries an obligation of personal integrity and conduct that serves to establish public respect, confidence, and trust.

C. Employees represent the County of Marin and the quality of County service is judged through their performance and conduct. The citizens of Marin have the right to expect that County employees will provide services in an efficient, thorough and courteous manner. It is intended that the rules and procedures which follow will assist employees in maintaining high ethical standards and proper job performance, and in avoiding potential conflicts of interest both in fact and appearance.

D. The County, as a condition of employment, expects to receive from the employee:

1. Initiative and a conscientious effort to perform productive work.

2. Cooperative, positive, responsive, and courteous relations with fellow employees, supervisors, subordinates, and the public.

3. A continuous effort to strive for greater knowledge and skill on the job in order to maintain performance at a high level.

4. Compliance with all policies, regulations, rules of conduct and ordinances established by the County.

5. Responsible work habits demonstrated by:

a. Dependability, promptness, reliable attendance, and performing required duties competently,

b. Keeping informed of developments and matters affecting job performance,

c. Being flexible and adaptable to change,

d. Accepting constructive suggestions and criticism.

6. Neat and clean grooming and attire appropriate to the job assignment. Prescribed uniforms and safety equipment must be worn where applicable.

E. County employees will effectively implement the official policies of the County when serving in their official capacity with customers, clients, and the public and/or when identifying themselves as County employees in the course of their work.

F. No officer, official or employee will accept a fee, compensation, gift, payment of expenses or any other thing of monetary value in any circumstances in which acceptance may result in or create the appearance of any one or more of the following:

1. Use of public office and/or employment for personal or private gain.

2. Preferential treatment of any person.

3. Loss of complete independence or impartiality.

4. Making a county decision outside of official channels.

5. Reduction of public confidence in the integrity of county government and/or its employees.

6. Impeding government efficiency or economy.

G. No employee of the County of Marin will engage in an intimate sexual or romantic relationship with another person while that person is a client of that employee, or when such relationship would create a conflict of interest in fact or in appearance or make it difficult for the department to do its job.

20.2 General Prohibitions

A. Discrimination Prohibited. No person employed by the County of Marin, or seeking employment therewith, shall be discriminated against in recruitment, examination, appointment, training, promotion, retention, discipline, or any other aspect of personnel administration because of race, color, religion, national origin, ancestry, marital status, sex, age, physical or mental disability (including ARC and/or HIV positive), sexual orientation, political or religious opinions or affiliations, taking of FMLA or pregnancy disability leave, religious creed, medical condition, gender identity, or any other factor unrelated to the job.

B. Nepotism Prohibited. No appointing authority will employ any person related to the appointing authority by blood, domestic partnership or marriage or by marital-type relationship. No person shall be employed in a position directly supervised by a person related to him or her by blood, marriage or marital-type relationship without the approval of the County Administrator after recommendation by the Director of Human Resources. It is recognized that there are occasions where exceptions may be made on a temporary or occasional basis due to a temporary need. Marital-type relationship is defined as two or more people living together in a family relationship without legal or blood ties. An employee is required to notify the appointing authority if the employee enters into a marriage, domestic partnership, or marital type relationship with another employee where a supervisor/subordinate relationship exists.

C. Anti-Fraternization. The County recognizes that employees may develop consensual personal relationships with other employees in the course of their employment. However, consenting “romantic” or sexual relationships between a supervisor and an employee who reports to that supervisor directly or indirectly (through other levels of supervision) may lead to actual or potential problems of supervision, favoritism, morale, misunderstandings, safety, conflicts of interest, or harassment claims, including claims of sexual harassment. Any such relationship may therefore be contrary to the best interests of the County.

1. Supervisor/Subordinate Sexual or Romantic Relationships Discouraged. The County strongly discourages such relationships and any conduct (such as dating between a supervisor and an employee) that is designed or may reasonably be expected to lead to the formation of a romantic or sexual relationship.

2. Supervisors have the Obligation to Report Sexual or Romantic Relationships. Supervisors must recognize the impact of dating, romantic, or sexual relationships on the equitable and efficient operation of the workplace and the County’s need to take appropriate action to mitigate the impact. Therefore, if a romantic or sexual relationship between a supervisor and an employee should develop, it shall be the responsibility and mandatory obligation of the supervisor to promptly disclose the existence of the relationship to the employee’s Department Head. The employee may make the disclosure as well, but the burden of doing so shall be upon the supervisor.

The County recognizes the ambiguity of and the variety of meanings that can be given to the term “romantic”. It is assumed, however, that either or both of the parties to such a relationship will appreciate the common sense meaning of the term as it applies to either or both of them, and will act in a manner consistent with this policy.

3. County Action. Upon being informed or learning of the existence of such a relationship, the Department Head, in consultation with the Director of Human Resources, may take all reasonable steps that he or she deems appropriate in order to eliminate actual or potential problems of supervision, favoritism, morale, misunderstanding, safety, conflicts of interest, or harassment claims. At a minimum, the employee and supervisor may not thereafter be permitted to work together on the same matters (including matters pending at the time disclosure of the relationship is made), and the supervisor must withdraw from participation in activities or decisions (including, but not limited to hiring, evaluations, promotions, compensation, work assignments, discipline, or other terms and conditions of employment) that may reward or disadvantage any employee with whom the supervisor has or has had such a relationship.

D. Retaliation Prohibited. The County prohibits retaliation against any employee for engaging in protected activity in good faith. Protected activity includes filing a complaint, participating or cooperating in an investigation, or testifying in a proceeding regarding discriminatory conduct, regulatory violations, illegal activity, or unsafe working conditions or industrial injury.

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20.3 Improper Political Activity

A. Political Activity Prohibited. Coercion of or by employees or use of positions for political purposes is prohibited. Employees of federally grant-aided programs are subject to applicable state and federal statutes establishing limitation on participation in political activities.

B. Improper Political Activity. No one employed by the County will engage in political activities on County premises, while engaged in official duties, using County equipment, or wearing an official county uniform.

C. Solicitation of Contributions. No officer or employee of the County and no candidate for any County office will directly or indirectly coerce, attempt to coerce command or advise anyone holding a position with the County or seeking appointment to such a position to pay, lend or contribute anything of value to a party, committee, organization, agency or person for political purposes.

20.4 Maintenance of Confidential and/or Privileged Information

Information used and/or accessed in the course of employment, if privileged by virtue of the employee’s position and/or confidential, will not be discussed outside the work environment and only as the law requires.

20.5 Outside Employment

A. General. No full-time appointed officer or employee may engage in outside employment unless prior written approval is granted. Outside employment must not be inconsistent, incompatible, in conflict with, or harmful or unfavorable to his or her duties as a County employee, or reduce the efficiency of the employee in County employment. The hours and schedule worked in outside employment also require approval and require, at minimum, one full 24-hour day of rest per calendar week. A general guideline is, for outside employment of indefinite duration, no more than four hours in a County workday, eight hours within a County five-day work week, or 16 hours within a calendar week.

B. Process. An employee must file a Request to Engage in Supplemental Employment Form (provided as PMR 20 - Form 1) with their department head for each outside employment. Approval is required by the department head and the Director of Human Resources or designee prior to engaging in any outside employment. Request forms must be submitted annually if the outside employment lasts more than one year.

C. Revocation. Approval may be rescinded at any time if, in the judgment of the department head, the outside employment is inconsistent with, incompatible with, in conflict with, or harmful or unfavorable to the employee’s duties as a County employee.

D. No Outside Employment When on Workers’ Compensation. An employee will not engage in outside employment while on workers’ compensation leave status with the County. Under special circumstances of undue hardship, the County Administrator may consider authorizing outside employment upon request.

E. Use of County Equipment Prohibited. No County owned equipment, computer, automobile, truck, instrument, tools, supply, machine, or any other item which is the property of the County will be used by the employee while said employee is engaged in any outside employment. No employee will allow any unauthorized person to rent, borrow or use any of the items mentioned above.

20.6 Drug and/or Alcohol Use

A. In order to ensure safe and productive work practices free from the influence of impairing drugs and alcohol, and to comply with the federal Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988, the County requires that an employee:

1. Not report to scheduled work or be on call while his or her ability to perform his or her job duties is impaired due to on or off duty alcohol or drug use. When an employee is called to report to unscheduled work when not on call, s/he should advise the supervisor if s/he is impaired under this policy and unable to work.

2. Not use alcohol or illegal drugs and/or prescription drugs without a prescription, during work hours or while subject to duty (on call), on breaks, or at any time while on County paid status or worksite property, except for alcohol served after working hours at an authorized function such as a retirement party.

3. Not directly or through third parties sell or provide illegal drugs to any person, including any employee while either or both employees are on duty or on call.

4. Notify the department head of any criminal drug conviction for a violation occurring in the work place no later than five days after conviction.

B. Employees who violate the above policy, or are convicted on criminal drug statute violations occurring at the work place, or who fail to give the notice required above shall be subject to the appropriate personnel action, up to and including termination, and/or may, where appropriate, be required to participate in a drug abuse assistance or rehabilitation program approved for such purposes by a federal, state, or local health, law enforcement, or other appropriate agency.

C. The County has established an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to assist those employees who voluntarily seek help for alcohol or drug problems. Employees should contact the EAP directly or the Human Resources Department for additional information. Such contact and referral shall be strictly confidential. Drug and alcohol abuse are treatable illnesses and employees are encouraged to seek the assistance of the Employee Assistance Program to obtain treatment and rehabilitation.

D. The County reserves the right to search, without employee consent, all areas and properties in the County over which the County maintains control or joint control with the employee.

Managers and supervisors will not physically search the person or employee, nor will they search the personal possessions or private property of the employee, such as the employee’s vehicle, briefcase, purse, bag, etc. without the freely given written consent of, and in the presence of, the employee.

E. Managers and supervisors are responsible for reasonable enforcement of this policy, and may direct, with the approval of the appointing authority or designee in conjunction with the Human Resources Director or designee, that an employee submit to a drug and/or alcohol test when a manager or supervisor has a reasonable suspicion that an employee’s ability to perform his or her duties is impaired due to being intoxicated or under the influence of drugs or alcohol while on the job or on call.

1. “Reasonable suspicion” is a belief based on objective facts sufficient to lead a reasonably prudent trained supervisor to suspect that an employee is under the influence of drugs or alcohol so that the employee’s ability to perform the functions of the job is impaired or so that the employee’s ability to perform his/her job safely is reduced.

2. Reasonable suspicion must be based on short-term indicators such as, but not limited to, blurry eyes, slurring of speech, alcohol odor on the breath, or observation of possession of alcohol or drugs. The supervisor may not rely on long-term signs such as absenteeism or tardiness alone to support the need for a reasonable suspicion test. Although only one supervisor is needed to determine reasonable suspicion, a second supervisor is advisable and, when practicable, another trained supervisor may be called upon by the suspecting supervisor to observe the indicator(s).

3. It will be the discretion of the supervisor, based upon the particular circumstances, to determine whether or not an investigatory interview is necessary when directing an employee to submit to a drug or alcohol test. When such an investigatory meeting is held, as much as possible, the employee will receive notice as to the purpose of the meeting, and of the right to representation if the employee believes the investigation could lead to disciplinary action for him or her.

4. Any manager or supervisor directing an employee to submit to a drug and/or alcohol test will document in writing the facts constituting reasonable suspicion that the employee in question is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.

5. Any manager or supervisor encountering an employee who refuses an order to submit to a drug and/or alcohol analysis upon direction shall remind the employee of the requirements and disciplinary consequences of this policy. Where there is reasonable suspicion that the employee is then under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the manager or supervisor will arrange for the employee to be safely transported home.

6. To ensure that supervisors are trained to make reasonable suspicion determination, supervisors vested with the authority to demand a reasonable suspicion drug and/or alcohol test will attend at least one hour of training on alcohol misuse and at least one hour of training on controlled substance misuse. The training will cover the physical, behavioral, speech and performance indicators of probable alcohol misuse and use of controlled substances. The County will provide training on a recurring basis, and such training will be available to any County supervisor.

7. Testing shall be done by a laboratory licensed and certified by the California Department of Health Services, Laboratory Field Services, as a medical and forensic laboratory which complies with federal guidelines and which includes procedures to be used as set forth in PMR 22.8.

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20.7 Use of County Facilities or Property

No County property will be used by an employee without express authorization of the department head or designee and as necessitated by the employee’s position.

20.8 Smoking Prohibited

Smoking cigarettes, cigars or other tobacco products is prohibited in all places of employment with enclosed facilities 24 hours a day. This includes common work areas, meeting or conference rooms, restrooms, hallways, elevators, stairs, lobbies, classrooms, private offices, county vehicles, employee lounges and cafeterias, medical facilities, auditoriums, and all other enclosed work facilities. Smoking is also prohibited within 20 feet of the entrance, doorway, window, etc. to any county building.

20.9 Employee Responsibilities as Disaster Service Workers

A. A Disaster Service Worker provides disaster service assistance during an emergency pursuant to State of California Title 19, CCR, §2570.2(a). All County of Marin public employees are Disaster Service Workers when ordered to assist during disasters by their supervisors. Employees are registered with the Marin County Disaster Council, an approved body by the California Emergency Council. Employees must perform emergency duties when directed by that body or person with that authority.

B. County employees on duty at the time of a major disaster may be incorporated into the disaster response immediately. In accordance with each department’s procedures for notification and call back, employees not on duty at the time of a major disaster may be called in to work to accept a disaster response assignment.


Effective Date: January 2005
Revisions No. : 0
Prepared By: Laura Armor

Approved: ss/President, Board of Supervisors