Professionalism document when engaging with stakeholders: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

Scottish Government Department policy on email etiquette when a Scottish Government employee is corresponding with a customer/stakeholder outwith the Scottish Government. For example, a policy document that explains the professionalism that Scottish Government employees should adhere to when corresponding by email with a customer/stakeholder.


While our aim is to provide information wherever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have some of the information you have requested. The reason why we don't have the information is due to the fact the Scottish Government does not have a policy on external customer/stakeholder engagement.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

However, information has been provided below which relates to your request for expectations of professionalism the Scottish Government employees should adhere to when corresponding by email:

All Scottish Government employees are expected to behave in line with the standards of behaviour set out in the Civil Service Code.

Scottish Government employees are also expected to adhere to general guidance on email etiquette which we have enclosed for information:

1. Email – good practice guide
When sending emails, you should observe the following good practice guidelines:

  • check your email regularly and reply promptly
  • don't assume that because you have sent a message it will have been read
  • set up a filing system for email messages you wish to keep, and regularly delete unwanted ones
  • use the 'Out of Office' reply when required
  • make arrangements for your email to be forwarded to someone to handle when you are out of the office
  • you can turn on tracking options in your SCOTS Outlook account to check that your email has arrived and been read
  • You should treat the security of email messages the same way as a message on a postcard.
  • Anyone along the chain of distribution could get to see what you have said, and it might even end up in someone else's hands.

2. Writing styles

  • be careful how you express yourself (language and tone), and remember that the message may
  • be read by people other than who it is intended for
  • try to keep messages concise and brief
  • use plain English
  • make sure that the 'subject' field of your message is meaningful

3. Be 'legal, decent, honest and truthful'

  • Laws relating to written communications apply to email messages. These include defamation, copyright, obscenity, fraudulent misrepresentation, freedom of information and discrimination.

You may be subject to disciplinary action if you:

  • send abusive or defamatory messages
  • say anything that might discredit or bring embarrassment to the Scottish Government

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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