VA Code of Ethics


The VA industry is – to date – self-regulated and this is a fantastic thing for our industry. I believe it is one of the reasons why our industry is so non-competitive.

However, that doesn’t mean that VAs don’t operate in accordance with a Code of Ethics. Whilst that Code may vary slightly from VA to VA it will cover basics such as:

  • Maintaining honesty and integrity when working with clients, suppliers and colleagues;
  • Fair dealing;
  • Only taking on work for which the VA is suitably qualified/skilled and seeking to outsource those tasks for which they are not qualified/skilled to another VA;
  • Confidentiality of information;
  • Not knowingly take part in any illegal/unethical activity;
  • Commitment to continuing education/training;
  • Refrain from conduct that would bring the VA or the industry as a whole into disrepute.

Another part of a VA’s Code of Ethics is to not knowingly take another VA’s client or deliberately or knowingly undercut a colleague in order to do so. Now it stands to reason that many clients will approach more than one VA for a quote. It is important that clients realise though that once they have chosen a particular VA a contract will be entered into, part of which will no doubt state that the client will not give work to another VA that falls within the skill set of the contracted VA. So this provides a kind of ‘exclusive’ arrangement between the VA and client.

I recently had a potential client indicate that they were contracting one VA but would send me work if that VA was overloaded. It was important to point out in this instance that, since he had not contracted me but the other VA, ethically I would not be able to accept work from him directly … though it is possible that I could accept subcontract work from her if she was overloaded.

Clients generally do not work with more than one VA unless there is a project requiring multiple skill sets in which case the main contracted VA will arrange subcontracts on behalf of the client with appropriately skilled VAs. Alternatively, the VA (at their discretion) may put the client in touch directly with the appropriately skilled VA … something I have done myself from time to time in my practice.

But in this way, for the most part, the client only needs to liaise with one person although there may in fact be a team of VAs working for that client.

© Lyn Prowse-Bishop,


  1. You raise some good points however I have to say I actually wrote a blog post recently that said something quite different in some respects. It was titled “A VA For Each Thing” and basically I was saying that a client might engage several VAs to support them in business. One VA for general admin/secretarial, another for bookkeeping, another for website maintenance, another for marketing – just like a corporation would have a different dept to look after each aspect of their business.

    That’s not to say that the one VA couldn’t actually be responsible for 2 or 3 of those things but I find that it’s rare that one VA could do all of the things a client requires. And while some clients might be happy to engage one VA to project manage all their needs, many don’t as they like to have that direct client-VA contact for each aspect of their business. Not all VAs have project management skills either.

    However, I do agree that it is good if the one (original or main) VA made contact with other VAs on behalf of the client to secure those who have the skills that particular VA doesn’t. That’s the benefit of being a member of various VA networks!

  2. execva says:

    True Kathie – and as I say in the post “unless there is a project requiring multiple skill sets”. I also indicate that part of the Code of Ethics is:

    “Only taking on work for which the VA is suitably qualified/skilled and seeking to outsource those tasks for which they are not qualified/skilled to another VA”.

    In my experience (and of course every post here is based on my own experience which may be different to others), my clients always check with me first to see whether I can do something and if not, I find them an alternative, saving them the hassle of having to do so themselves.

  3. Fair enough, just wanted to elborate. Like you my clients always check with me first too – nice to know they have that confidence in my abilities and knowledge sufficiently to advise them accordingly.

  4. Debra Barber says:

    Thanks for this post Lyn. I think it is good for clients of VAs to know that we all work to this Code of Ethics.

    I must say though, I have been contacted by prospective clients seeking a quote for work because their targets were not being met by their existing VA. In this case, what action would you recommend be taken and has this happened to you before?

  5. execva says:

    Hi Debra! Thanks for your comment!

    This has happened to me before and I in fact knew the incumbent VA. I told the client that before I could do this work (note it was the SAME work) for them, they would need to advise the VA they were currently working with that things weren’t working out and terminate that contract if that was what they wanted to do. Most VA contracts will include a termination clause – in mine there is a requirement for 30 days’ notice. In this way the VA can seek to fix any problems that might be happening before the client just scoots off to another service.

    As I knew the VA in this instance, I also contacted her to say that her client had been in touch and what would she like me to do. She gave approval for me to do the work, she terminated the contract with her client and that was that. 🙂

    I have had instances where I have sent a client to another VA who had skills in a particular area that I didn’t, for one part of his job, and then he sent her work directly that was something I could look after. In this case, that VA should have contacted me about it – and I had to remind my client that he should check with me first if I can do something because that particular referral was for that one task only. Open communication with clients is very important so there are no misunderstandings.

  6. Debra Barber says:

    Thanks Lyn. It has been on my mind. I know the VA as well and wasn’t sure if I should let her know that her client was shopping around due to issues. Personally, I would like to know if I wasn’t living up to a client’s expectations and would like to be able to work things out if it was something to do with delivery of work and reaching goals and targets.

    I haven’t heard back from him so I may just drop her a line and let her know. At least then she can follow up the issue.

    I too have the 30 days written notice clause in my contracts so this is good to know that others expect the same.

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