The introduction of the Bribery Act in 2010 created a liability on companies where their employees have engaged in bribery, even if they have no prior knowledge of this. Offences will be committed under the Act where an employee has offered, or received, a bribe or where the organisation has failed to stop bribes being paid for on their account. The emphasis of the Act is, once an offence of bribery has taken place, to look at whether the company has put in place sufficient measures to prevent bribery from occurring.
Gifts, from parties such as company suppliers or clients, can fall in to the grey area between a genuine gift and a bribe. Genuine gifts which are not intended to reward or bring about improper action will not be considered unlawful under the Act, therefore a gift to your staff for good service such as a voucher or goods hamper can be accepted and enjoyed. There is no maximum value that the gift has to fall under to not constitute a bribe, so gifts such as event tickets or free accommodation are also allowable. When companies are offering gifts or hospitality to parties care should be taken to make sure these are reasonable and proportionate to their purpose.
It is important for employers to support and maintain an anti-bribery culture to make sure that all members of the organisation are aware of the line between a gift and bribes and so that they can evidence the preventative measures in place. As a minimum, a record should be kept of all gifts and hospitality received by staff and a record of all gifts offered by staff as part of their duties. Staff should also be encouraged to not accept gifts without employer approval or for them to communicate with an allotted bribery officer when they are offered a gift. This will allow a level of control over what gifts are accepted within the company and can assess whether the items received are appropriate in the circumstances.
Implementing an anti-bribery policy is one way to tackle this issue and the policy should focus on how your individual organisation has put in place measures to tackle the issue, one size policy may not fit all in these circumstances. Although procedures and policies will vary from employer to employer it is important to get it right, first time, to avoid prosecution for failing to prevent bribery occurring.
For advice and information on this issue then please contact Peninsula on 0844 892 2772.