Sub-Topic 5: Professional Ethics

Professional ethics deals with morally acceptable standards of behaviour and competences that are expected of people in a particular kind of work they do. The major aim of professional ethics is to guide in matters pertaining to interpersonal relations. Examples of professional ethics include: medical ethics, legal ethics, the teaching profession ethics and Christian social ethics.



Help learners to role-play various professions.

Hold a balloon debate that brings out the importance of each profession.

Guide learners into a discussion about the importance of work ethics.

Professional ethics


The word ethics comes from a Greek word 'ethnos' which means accepted behaviour, therefore, professional ethics are acceptable standards of behaviour, abilities and competence expected of one in professional work done.


Professional ethics is the general agreed code of conduct expected of a worker while at work.

These standards are often written down as codes of conduct as related with the people we deal within our work and with a community as a whole. These codes include among others:-

Competence with recognized qualification of entrance. This helps to establish confidence of ones ability e.g. for one to be an Engineer, doctor there is a specified time of training at University followed by supervision to ascertain ones ability.

Confidentiality of secrets e.g. a priest not to reveal peoples confessed sins; Doctors have a duty to preserve life and not destroy.

Standards of professional integrity as to what a member of particular profession is not expected to do e.g. a teacher is not expected to have sexual relations with students.

Loyalty; some professions have some sense of loyalty to one another e.g. helping one another during time of necessity.

Honesty is also a requirement while dealing with the community so one has to avoid false statements to avoid being quoted leading to loss of trust and respect. Telling lies is bad. Some professionals do not want to advertise their services or clients transferring services from one practitioner to another especially medicine men. But the trend has changed in that to get market there is a lot of advertisement carried out.

Roles; each profession has particular roles to be carried out e.g. a teacher rr-ust organize schemes of work, lesson plan in order to go to class.

Mutual trust should exist between members of a profession for example teachers should not criticize one another in front of their students otherwise their work will be affected.

Dressing codes and general conduct in community e.g. a teacher must dress decently in order for students to grasp what he/she teaches and must not be a drunkard.

Some of these are not written down and they are called professional Etiquette.

Importance of professional ethics

They help people to satisfactorily perform their duties/services at the best expected levels.

They are able to adapt good working principles which go a long way in the success of our duties.

Professional Ethics enables professionals to know how to handle clients in the accepted way and it helps to win trust, loyalty from them.

It also helps professionals to keep some distance priest, teacher must maintain his dignity respect ones status e.g. a

They help professionals to keep expected standards by the public and it is safeguards a good name of the profession.

Respect for workmates is achieved e.g. one avoids talking behind somebody's back e.g. teacher-teacher, teacher-student which brings conflicts between professionals while at work for example accepting bribes, a teacher changing marks of a pupil to fail or make him/her pass is unethical.

It helps one avoid unprofessional or unethical behaviour such as prostitution; adultery by a priest or teacher.

Professional ethics give the dos and dont's of a particular profession e.g. style of dressing, conduct in public which have to be followed.

It helps one to be updated ad consistent with his/her work e.g. a teacher must plan his work in order to be effective in teaching.

There is good working relationship between employers and employees without one feeling that one is being dictated upon.

Professional ethics controls emotions which can obscure judgments. For that matter, when professionals pass out, some take an oath e.g. doctors have Hippocratic oath.

Consequences of ignoring professional ethics

If one does things contrary to ones profession one can be relieved of his/her duties e.g. a priest who is a menace to clients can be revoked or disrobed.

There will be lack of trust and therefore one can be ignored e.g. if one becomes a rapist, a thief in his professional practice.

Imprisonment becomes a solution for abusing professional ethics e.g. if a doctor allows abortion.

Lack of professional ethics can destroy the working relationship between workers.

It leads to temptations such as having sexual affairs with clients, bribes and this destroys ones image.

Society develop a bad impression towards a particular profession i.e. one rotten egg spoils the rest.

It leads to employing people without proper qualifications and therefore no effective work is expected.

Professionals will criticize one another in the presence of clients which will make people avoid them.

People's chaos at places of work

However, over concern on professional ethics can also be a disadvantage as noted below:-

Some professionals under pay its workers so there is need to have part time clinics they help to ease health problems and help to survive

Some abortions have helped some girls continue with studies.

Over emphasis on qualifications deny people a chance to advance-and yet could be well-gifted in some fields than professionals.

When doctors open side clinics they help to ease health problems and help to discourage congestion in hospitals

The Medical Professional Ethics

This is an example of a profession with good code of Ethics where a Doctor's job is primarily to deal with life (human) and thus save life.

In the Old Testament, there were cases of healing e.g. Ecclesiastics 38:1-15 and even during Jesus' teaching he talked of "the sick that needs a doctor".

Because of the importance of the profession, before they are commission to execute their duties they take the 'Hippocratic oath' swearing to be loyal and abide by medical requirements and has these basic principles:-

A medical practitioner should always work in the interest of the patient.

He should refuse to give drugs that kill i.e. his knowledge may not be used to destroy life. For the matter, practicing Euthanasia may not be practiced.

He should not give a hand to a woman in holding an abortion.

He should preserve professional secrets so that patients can trust him when information is given (confidentiality).

There should be maximum cooperation among medical practitioners, constant medical consultations, referrals especially on technical or complicated cases which require a special list.

A doctor is expected to do his work perfectly with care and efficiency.

It is his responsibility to educate masses the causes, solutions and preventive measures of diseases.

A doctor is supposed to be knowledgeable and appreciated in his profession to be more effective.

A doctor has a duty to tell the patient the truth at the right time.

Though he is supposed keep secrets, where some ones rights or safety is involved, he should.

Confidentiality between patient and a doctor is necessary in order to benefit from treatment given.

All in all, medical practitioners see to it that he saves life, heals diseases, alleviates pain, reduces the ill effects of incurable diseases, prevents sickness and improves quality of life (physical).

Therefore, he should acquire knowledge and skills, should use the safest remedy and dangerous ones only to be used where there is extreme necessity with consent of patient.

Discuss the Christian objection of euthanasia (mercy killing of explain the circumstances under which the use of euthanasia by medical workers is advocated for.

Euthanasia is the inducing of death painlessly; it is intended to do away with life in face of agony where there is no likely hood for one to survive.

It is also a form of mercy killing meant to help a victim avoid suffering or to relieve the victim from untold suffering when there is no hope for life or for betterment.

Reasons given

Proponents see it as an act of mercy to the sufferer e.g. somebody burnt /severely injured in an accident with no hope of surviving.

It is seen as an act of mercy to the suffering family.

It helps relieve the family out of financial burden and strain e.g. severe illness/chronic illness can wipe out a lifetime savings which would sustain the surviving family.

When the survival of the person/patients is quite psychologically and physically expensive.

When the patient is facing a lot of psychological torture and agony yet there is no hope of survival.

In case a child is born is deformed i.e. without limbs and has no chances of living.

In case of incurable diseases like cancer, Aids, at advanced stage and it serve as a better solution than leaving the person to suffer endlessly.

If it helps to avoid others being infected by the dangerous diseases e.g. ebola.

A severely wounded soldier who may reveal secrets (war) to the enemy if left to die by himself.

When one has overgrown in age and has become senile e.g. defecates in food or takes his own urine and is totally a nuisance.

In some cases, the patient himself after being bed ridden for long can ask for it due to terrible agony.

If it is realized that even if one stays he is useless.

It saves a lot of time people have to spend looking after the patient

It also saves a lot of emotions of those attending to the patient who is in a desperate situation.

If the person is a society dancer e.g. a dangerous robber /murderer who had survived death and if treated, he will go back and terrorize people.

Christian Objection to Euthanasia

Euthanasia is objected because it is considered murder; God is the giver of life and who has the power to take it at will.

It is one way of misusing drugs.

It creates guilt to those who commit murder in mercy killing.

It is a form of suicides especially if one asks for it himself.

It cheapens the value of human life

It is based on a humanistic ethics i.e. Rejection of God given values and acceptance of situational ethics.

There is no moral right to kill and it reduces the life of a person to an animal.

It is evil and inflicts the missery of death because killing an innocent person is not good no matter for what reason.

Sometimes God permits suffering as a means for us to learn something (Jm 1 :2-4; Rom 5:3-4).

There is no price of on human life e.g. when Euthanasia is done in order to relieve the family of the financial strain.

It is contrary to God's sovereignty over life.

It integrates with the person's fundamental right to live.

One can use Euthanasia for killing ones enemies.

It produces guilt in the family and society or to the person who does the administering of Euthanasia.

Doctors who do it break or violate the hyppocratic oath.

It is a sign of lack of faith and yet there is need for hope.

A person may be miraculously healed.

Christians encourage prayer in case of problems.

It is not easy to tell whether the disease is incurable e.g. Job suffered for long but God healed and blessed him later four times.

The practice can create tensions and suspicions in society and may loose trust in medicine or medical workers.

Killing out of compassion is ignoring the religion aspect of suffering meant for purification e.g. Job.

To what extent can medical workers be responsible for death of patients when they lay down their tools for increase in salary?

Laying down of tools by workers is often termed as a strike, which is cessation of work organized by a number of workers to make employers realize their demands.

To a lesser extent they can be responsible for death of patients in the following ways:

Medics are trained to preserve life and refusing to work they deny people chance to live.

Government is responsible and gives them salary and allowances though not enough.

It also provides houses and other fringe benefits which other civil servants my lack. When their families or relatives fall sick they utilize their positions to help them.

They are trained using tax payers' money whom they are denying to help (A doctor's training in Uganda today takes at least 25 millions per year for 5 years or more!)

The grudge is not between them and patients (patients are innocent)

By striking the few whose lives could be saved are lost).

Therefore, they should use other means or warp of demanding for wages that laying down their tools such as medical workers union.

However, to a large extent, they are not responsible because of the following:

They often warn the public earlier.

By the time they lay down their tools, all avenues of solving the problem will have parted.

Employers should be more responsible for hard living to improve their standards.

Since the public is warned before, those who are able could transfer the sick to private clinics / hospitals.

Even during the strike some doctors are left on stand-by for emergency cases such as accidents.

If the government can pay highly those in Uganda Revenue Authority, other Authorities like National Roads Authority, Drug Authority and Forestry Authority among others well what about such useful people who work day and night!

Though the government spends a lot on their training, it should do the same to maintain them.

If MPs can earn up to 8 millions, some of whom are S.6 Ieavers, what about the medical workers who take long training, are overworked and work in dangerous conditions making them liable to infection e.g. Dr. Lukwiya who died of Ebola.

Though government trains many doctors, many go for greener pastures so those who sacrifice to remain should be maintained.

Even when doctors are in full operation, patients often die once it is their time.

There are more people who die outside hospital environment than within its environment.

The legal professional ethnics

The Legal professional comprises of judges magistrates, lawyer/advocates. Like any profession, the legal profession has principles that a judge/ lawyer uses in carrying out duties as follows:

Not to accept bribes, even if disguised as presents, promotions, promises which may influence his work.

Must judge according to evidence provided by the prosecutors and use the law to interpret them.

Must have competent knowledge of the law; in order to apply correct procedure and impartially listen to the evidence.

Should observe professional secrecy to bring confidence with clients (lawyers).

As a lawyer tries to make one win a case he should not be use illegal ways, lies (this is compliance in perjury) so he should speak the truth so he also takes an oath. To lessen the case he brings the court to attention of extenuating circumstances e.g. murder can be lessened to manslaughter.

He should have good relationship with colleagues in helping one another especially in emergency to avoid rivaling so should consult with one another. Lawyers consider it wrong to persuade one another's clients to change their lawyer.

In divorce cases, the conscience of the advocate will be involved e.g. a Roman Catholic

Lawyer will not accept the validity of divorce case as it concerns the civil consequences of marriage.

The judge must be well composed i.e. should not use emotions or personal biases in judging cases.

Transparency, sincerity and honesty should be major components to the judge.

The judge should be neutral i.e. should not have interests in the case, must be ready and willing to execute justice of the highest order.

Must have integrity, respect, dress decently and not familiarize people.

An advocate should win the confidence of the client and should be faithful to the whole judicial process.

The lawyers/advocates should help the court to search for the truth e.g. where the offence was committed? Was it accidental or intentional?

N.B. The problems faced by the judiciary and solutions can be read in the section of law and order.

The teaching professional ethics

In the teaching profession, there are also recognised professional standards often referred to as 'code of discipline' in Kenya and 'Teachers code of conduct' in Uganda.

A teacher derives authority over the student first from the parents, then government as a sponsoring body; this is because children belong to parents and secondly the government supports the education system or is the sponsoring body solely responsible for the education where the teacher is appointed.

A teacher is therefore expected to:-have the knowledge and skills of the subject he, she is to teach and which is current to fit the standards of the time.

His approach or delivery of the subject matter should encourage students to seek more knowledge.

A requirement of communication skills to effectively pass on the knowledge to learners

He/she is to impart not only academic knowledge but also moral and spiritual standards to the students.

Pupils/students should have confidence in the teacher and this is possible through the type of relationship.

A good teacher should not always look at punishment as a way of relieving his anger but something intended to reform.

He/she should cultivate virtues like gentility, kindness, honesty and integrity.

A teacher should be principled and follow professional teaching ethics and should avoid dubious activities like prostitutions, drunkardness etc.

A teacher should command respect and win students' loyalty by acting as a model to students and the general public.

There is need in specialization and for that matter must be well qualified.

Loyalty to heads of school and those above him/her and fellow teachers plus other staff one works with should work as a team in the spirit of cooperation.

Confidentiality in official matters, avoid speaking behind people's backs, keep distance (reasonable) from pupils in such matters.

Punctuality and good preparation in one's teaching is very important.

Personal conduct, dressing should not be exemplary weak students, children with disability to ensure that they also understand and are nor left behind.

Honesty intelligence and above all keeping staff secrets, especially from staff meetings and not exposing them to anybody.

"Strike action solves the problem of the compromising manager". Discuss the statement from the Christian point of view.

A strike or industrial action is when workers lay down their tools and refuse to work with their grievances, usually wages or conditions of service are improved. It can be a sit down or violent where destruction can be involved.

As a Christian, strike action is not recommended as a means of solving the problem of an uncompromising manager because of the following:-

It destroys relationships between the employer and relationships between the employer and employees.

It may lead the employer to loose business; this is because sometimes the factory may be set ablaze.

May cause many innocent people to suffer e.g. doctors strike and cause many deaths in hospitals and sometimes if it is a school some innocent students can be shot dead e.g. in Makerere, Manjasi High School.

Strikes involve violence and yet Christ condemned it during his arrest. (John 18: 1 0).

During the strike there are no salaries paid so workers and their dependents suffer in the process.

A strike may spoil relationship between workers themselves since they force non-striking workers to cooperate and between them and their employers.

Usually after the strike some leaders can be expelled, demoted and conditions may become worse.

There are times when ring leaders use strikes to promote their own selfish ends an: the aims may not be genuine.

A strike is against the Christian virtue of patience.

The employer may counter attack by 'a lock out' leading to workers to loose jobs.

Before one resort to a strike dialogue should be used between the employers a' employees to see the way forward.

Strikes sometimes can lead to death.

In can also lead to destruction of property

Sometimes strikes are followed with immoral acts like stealing, rape, vandalism hooliganism.

Instead of going to strike, Christians are called upon to negotiate or speak about what is at stake.

Christian should develop the aspect of peace makers between rival parties.

Workers have a duty to fulfil their obligations other than striking.

The government needs to be involved.

However, a strike can take place on a small extent to solve the problem an uncompromising manager if:-

The employer has been given prior notice and conditions do not improve.

When there is proper authorization from police to stop any subversive activity.

When the strike has a just cause

When it is used as the last resort i.e. when all peaceful means have been employed and failed.

God caused a strike among the Israelites against Egyptians i.e. if it is for god caused a strike among the Israelites against the welfare of all.

When the advantages to be gained out way the disadvantages.

If the strike is sure that they will not be hurt physically and emotionally.

If the demands of strikers are reasonable and are achievable.

When the public is informed of what is going to take place.

When there is reasonable hopes of success or else do not venture.

If leaders show lack of concern.

How should a strike be conducted?

In conducting a strike the workers should act responsibly and justly.

Relevant authorities should be notified especially the Police for publicity.

There should be no violence or deliberate damage.

There should be no intimidation to those who have opted to work. This is because it is also their right to work.

Room should be left during the strike for alternative solutions.

It should be for the good of all members and rightly motivated without selfish motives.

There should be no interference with the rights of non-union members.

The effects of the strike on all involved including other workers and the public should be considered.

Should not cause enmity between employers and employees.

Should not cause death or any destruction.

Timing is important to avoid misinterpretation.

Rights and duties of an employer

The employer is the person who owns the means of production or who has the power to appoint and demote or dismiss workers.


An employer has the following rights:-

  • To obtain business without undue interference from the government or unjust pressures from trade unions.
  • To enjoy a fair share of the profits that arises from the firm or business.
  • To receive from employees a fair day's work for a fair day's wage.
  • To form associations with other employers
  • Right to security of life and property
  • A right to employ and fire his workers
  • To conduct business without unjust competition from other rival business firms within the country.
  • To enjoy loyalty and cooperation of his employees i.e. to be respected
  • To accord wage contracts and terms of service according to his ability to pay.
  • He has a right to sell, import and export his products.
  • To advertise his output, industry without any interference and to compete favorable with fellow employers.
  • To change business at will e.g. from sugar industry to forestation etc.


He has the following duties:-

To conduct business effectively in the interest of his employees and the community.

To respect the human dignity of the employees in their terms and conditions of work

To be fair in competition with others and practice cooperation.

If the business fails or if willing to find them employment.

To share profits and involve workers more closely in the enterprise.

Pay the workers on time and try to avail them a first wage.

There must be maternity leave maintenance and sick leave to those with serious problems/sickness.

To consider work participation in the ownership and management of the business.

To be just and practice charity and good will when retirement benefits may be require by the workers.

To pay allegiance to the state laws of the nation.

To listen to employees problems like death, illness.

In case of abnormal profit he should give out bonus.

Causes of conflicts between employers and employees

It is a common experience that employees in each labour industry have problems which sometimes cause conflicts with employers.

The conflicts are in most cases related to wages / salaries being inadequate.

Some policies of the administrators do not favour the freedom and general well being of the workers.

Delayed payments also breed contempt between the groups.

The widening gap between the employers and their employees creates suspicion and enmity at work.

Unprofessional employers displace their roles against employees hence conflicts.

Unfair treatment of the employees by their employers creates/may result in unfair relations.

If there is discrimination among the workers by employer then the aggrieved group may conflict with the employers.

Poor housing conditions and lack of basic amenities.

Exploitation through poor pay, overworking and harsh treatment of workers may result into conflicts.

Little interest on employees e.g. if he does not care whether they work well or not; no feedback, tribalism, unwanted demotions or promotions.

Employees demanding pay before time.

Organizing unwarranted strikes of go slow.

Late coming coupled with laziness

Dishonesty, stealing and vandalizing the business.

Absconding or absenteeism from duty

Time wasting through gossiping

Disobedience and no respect for employers.

Carelessness at work e.g. poor quality service or incompetence.

Sexual immorality or where employer demands for sex from female workers in order to promote or give jobs.

Corruption and demand for bribes.

Retrenching workers without cause.

Oppression of workers e.g. forces them to work on Sunday when they are to go for prayers.

Some employers despise workers calling them all sorts of names e.g. 'boys' especially Indians.

Some employers are selfish in the way they conduct business.

Some employers decampaign sister companies that their products are of poor quality.

Some employers evade taxes hence cheating the nation.

Rights and duties of employees

An employee is a person who discharges work and is paid by his boss.


He therefore has the following rights:

  • To receive a fair return for the work done Oust wage) except that the assessment always the question.
  • To keep the work load within limits that are reasonable hours of work
  • Care should be taken on his/her health and safety.
  • Should have fair opportunity for promotion.
  • Should have freedom to join or form trade unions but also freedom to join if there good reason for it.
  • Discourage exploitation
  • Observance of holidays is a necessity or recreation activities.
  • Those who sacrifice their time for overtime should be paid.


In the same way he/she has these duties:-

To do fair day's work for a fair day's pay.

No observation without honest reason or wasting time and leaving early or late coming;

When the employee is capable of doing better work he/she should exercise skill rightly and consciously.

To observe terms of service/contract with the employer honestly.

To join workers union for solidarity but not to use economic sanctions/strikes to 9 slow, for non economic purposes e.g. support particular political party.

Seek personal fulfilment in work and to carry out duties to family, dependants and society.

To treat employers' property carefully without deliberate or careless damage.

Respect and show good will towards the employer.

To promote the success of the enterprise motivated by profit sharing and ownership or managemental participation.

All in all, not all these rights and duties can be formulated or carried out, they are controlled by respect and not automatic.

Just the view that failure to pay a just wage makes corruption unavoidable.

A just wage is payment given to an experience, age, qualification, conditions of work, time etc. to give a wage worth one's labour supply.

Corruption is a form of conduct which deviates from professional ethics and this may arise due to poor pay.

Therefore, failure to pay a just wage causes out to do more than one job and this brings in ineffectiveness.

Poor payments cause the worker not to rely on ones' boss; divided loyalty and therefore corruption.

It is a form of exploitation therefore a worker is forced to forge to liberate himself.

It causes inefficiency so out to get services one buys favours e.g. a taxi driver will bribe the traffic police who is poorly paid and has no alternative but to accept.

In hospitals it leads to selling of drugs.

Even in other public places/offices, public property is often sold e.g. selling of exams.

Some people are admitted without merit to institution of learning leaving out those qualified.

Release of criminals after getting a bribe

Judgment of cases becomes unfair .

Causes favoritism by bosses for those who do what the boss is interested in.

Violation of professional ethics, which leads to unfaithfulness and lack of trust.

Workers can plan the downfall of the organization

How has corruption affected the Ugandan society?


It has led to selling of government parastatals and companies to individuals and improving production.

It has led to improved services

It has created employment

Commodities are easily available

Bicupuli have enriched people and has led to development.

Has enabled students to be admitted in good schools and end up performing better

Has checked on inflation leading to stable prices


Public services have been sold off e.g. UTC, peoples transport, Uganda hotels etc

Poor services in hospitals for the poor

Has led to inefficiency of work because of unqualified people.

Cheating in examinations where wrong and weak people are uplifted leaving those who may qualify.

Imbalanced development to areas where corrupt officials come from as opposed those without.

Envy among the people

Sometimes it leads to death, witchcraft and exploitation.

IDevice Icon Activity


Ask learners to write an essay about the importance of professional ethics.

Guide learners to enumerate the challenges professionals face in trying to work within their professional ethics.