Ethics and code of conduct

Ethics and code of conduct

Within the context of their public service missions, permanent and contractual INRAE staff have a particular status giving them certain rights and guarantees entailing, however, compliance with certain obligations. These statutory rules, including principles of ethics and conduct, aim to ensure a respectful work environment for the common good. In addition to these obligations are some specific rules relating to research activities.
Ampoule-label HR

INRAE promotes a professional code of conduct in research: objectivity, impartiality and independence, intellectual honesty and reliability, integrity and transparency, exemplary behaviour, the guarantee of researcher freedom within the limits of the priorities established, and ethics.  

The core subjects include compliance with intellectual and industrial property rights, assessment of the work of third parties and expert appraisals, rules regarding multiple activities, and regulations applicable to prevention, hygiene, and safety at work.

The Institute has adopted an initiative for the continuing improvement of professional practices in the interests of equality, compliance with rules, and respect for individuals.  With this in mind, it has extended the implementation of the principles of ethics and conduct of the European Charter for Researchers to both permanent and contractual staff.uals. With this in mind, it has extended the implementation of the principles of ethics and conduct of the European Charter for Researchers to both permanent and contractual staff.

Rights and statutory obligations of permanent and contractual staff at INRAE


Principle of non-discrimination

This is the principle of equal eligibility to join the civil service. Any discrimination based more particularly on race, state of health, handicap, beliefs, philosophies, opinions or sex is forbidden.

Freedom of opinion

Freedom of opinion entails respecting the ideas and private life of each member of staff. However, this freedom must be exercised in keeping with the obligation of neutrality and the principle of secularism, as well as the obligation of discretion.

Union rights

The principle of freedom of association includes the freedom to establish trade unions - in accordance with the labour law - as well as the guarantee of non-discrimination with regard to union members or non-members. Union membership cannot be taken into consideration with regards recruitment, promotion, assignment, and more generally, the status of the members of staff.

Right to strike

Jurisprudence recognises the right of civil servants to strike. This right must, however, be exercised within the legal limits.

Right to remuneration

Civil servants are entitled to remuneration in exchange for services rendered, which includes salary, residence allowance, and compensation as set out in legislative or regulatory texts.

Right to paid leave

Each year, civil servants are entitled to paid leave of which the duration is laid down in regulatory texts.

Right to continuing training

Since 1st January 2017, civil servants have access to a Personal Training Account (Compte Personnel de Formation - CPF) to promote access to professional training.



Obligation of neutrality

Civil servants must not affirm their political or religious preferences and must not accept any differentiation in service rendered to users according to such convictions.

Obligation of professional secrecy

As custodians of information relating to or of interest to private individuals, civil servants are bound by professional secrecy laid down in the criminal code.

Obligation of professional discretion

This obligation aims to protect the administration against the disclosure of information regarding the workplace such as facts, information or documents that civil servants may encounter while performing or in connection with their duties.

Obligation of discretion

This concerns the expression of the civil servant's personal opinions. It does not pertain to the content of the opinions but the way in which they are transposed in speech, in writing or in actions. The obligation must be respected in and outside the workplace.

Obligation to follow orders

Civil servants must obey the orders of the competent superior authority and must be loyal when performing their duties. The obligation to follow orders requires compliance with all laws and regulations.

Ethics, scientific integrity and code of conduct in research projects

INRAE is a public institution of targeted research that generates new scientific knowledge by combining basic and applied research. As a public service, attentive to its impact on society as a whole, INRAE pays close attention to the orientation and development of its research programmes and to the transmission and use of resulting results and knowledge in support of public policies and for innovation in all its forms. 

These values unite the women and men who work at INRAE hand in hand:

  • for the common good, to meet the expectations of society today and in the future;
  • with socio-economic partners in agriculture, food and the environment;
  • with government partners.

The Institute is therefore committed to ensuring the exemplary behaviour of its teams and to providing benchmarks so that all missions and activities pursue an ambition to serve this general interest in an impartial and exemplary manner.

INRAE, a signatory to the national Ethics Charter for research professions, reaffirmed its commitment to these values in its own Ethics, Scientific Integrity and Code of Conduct Charter for research, along with a specific Scientific Integrity Policy document. The Institute has created a delegation, under the authority of its Chair/Chief Executive Officer to promote and uphold these values.

1. Scientific integrity

Given its obligations as a research organization, INRAE has created a system of scientific integrity advisors who help raise awareness among staff on these issues. They also provide advice and ensure the prevention and investigation of breaches reported to them.

> INRAE policy and provisions for scientific integrity (in French only)

2. Code of Conduct

Everyone who works at INRAE must perform their duties with dignity, impartiality, integrity and probity. They are bound by an obligation of neutrality and respect for secularism. All employees must treat everyone equally and respect their freedom of conscience and dignity. Additional conduct-related obligations include the full dedication of one’s activities to the required tasks, the prevention and elimination of conflicts of interest, an obligation of professional secrecy, discretion, transparency, responsibility, and an obligation to follow orders and to report crimes and offences.

INRAE employees continue to be held to other democratic, professional and social values. Though not specified in a document, these aim to ensure the quality of their efforts toward the common good. It is the task of every employee to help implement and uphold these values, including senior management teams, centre presidents and unit directors.

Our ethics policy also provides clarified meaning and useful benchmarks to teams so that individuals can ask themselves the right questions before taking a decision to act and adhere to an approach that respects these values and obligations. These reference points are defined in the Ethics, Scientific Integrity and Code of Conduct Charter.

The Ethics delegation acts to implement measures in support of this process and addresses the questions and concerns of employees.

In accordance with French laws on transparency, corruption and the modernisation of the economy, INRAE has established a whistle-blower system to report events or threats of serious harm to the common good, crimes and offences, or serious and clear breaches of a treaty, a law or regulation.

> Ethics, Scientific integrity and Code of Conduct Charter

3. Ethics

At INRAE, the subject of ethics is addressed at the institutional policy level, through referrals to and the opinions of the Joint Ethics Advisory Committee, and at the project level through a project ethics committee.

Numerous ethical issues arise in relation to legislation concerning things like research involving humans, animal testing, the use of genetic resources, genetically modified organisms, data protection, and biosafety and biosecurity. They can be classified into three categories according to the level of impact they have on society.

Respect for the individual is the core subject of research ethics. Respect for the living world and the environment requires reflection on the methods and consequences of projects. Last but not least, respect for partners in joint projects is a key concern for many teams.

Modification date : 10 December 2023 | Publication date : 04 June 2018 | Redactor : DRH - Service Attractivité et communication RH