When the implementation of the Bribery Act was postponed earlier this year, it was because Government guidance on the Act which would aid employer compliance was not ready to be published.

The guidance was recently made public and the date for implementation is now set at 1st July 2011.

In the main, the Act is not employment related. However, it does create a criminal offence for failure by a commercial organisation to prevent bribery being carried out by a person working on its behalf. It is a full defence for an employer to prove that despite, a particular case of bribery, it nevertheless had adequate procedures in place to prevent people associated with it from carrying out an act of bribery.

The guidance has been formulated around six guiding principles that will show that an employer has put adequate measures into place.

In brief, these are:

Proportionate procedures
A commercial organisation’s procedures to prevent bribery by persons associated with it should be proportionate to the bribery risks it faces and to the nature, scale and complexity of the commercial organisation’s activities. They should also be clear, practical, accessible, effectively implemented and enforced.

Top level commitment
The top-level management of a commercial organisation (be it a board of directors, the owners or any other equivalent body or person) should be committed to preventing bribery by persons associated with it. They should foster a culture within the organisation in which bribery is never acceptable.

Risk assessment
The commercial organisation should assess the nature and extent of its exposure to potential external and internal risks of bribery on its behalf by persons associated with it. The assessment should be periodic, informed and documented.

Due Diligence
The commercial organisation should apply due diligence procedures, taking a proportionate and risk based approach, in respect of persons who perform or will perform services for or on behalf of the organisation, in order to mitigate identified bribery risks.

The commercial organisation should seek to ensure that its bribery prevention policies and procedures are embedded and understood throughout the organisation through internal and external communication, including training, that is proportionate to the risks it faces.

Monitoring and review
The commercial organisation should monitor and review procedures designed to prevent bribery by persons associated with it and should make improvements where necessary.

For more information on the Bribery Act, please contact of 24 Hour Advice Service today on 0844 892 2772.