Gifts for Christmas = HR minefield?

In the run up to Christmas, some of your employees may receive a gift from a client or supplier.

To show their appreciation for their hard work and diligence, a client may give one of your employees a box of chocolate, some flowers or something else of low value. You may shrug it off as not a big deal, but it’s important to remember that any gifts or hospitality from clients, service users, suppliers and potential suppliers do not give the appearance that employees or the organisation itself may be influenced when making decisions.

In order to prevent any misinterpretations, employers should have a gifts and hospitality policy in their Employee Handbook, which makes it clear that employees should not offer, give, solicit or accept any bribe. This should be clearly communicated to all staff.

What should your gifts and hospitality policy include?

In your policy, you should make it clear that all gifts and hospitality given or received, of whatever value, must be entered in a register. This register may be kept by, for example, your senior management team.

You should also set out reasonable limits, so it’s vital that all employees understand that no personal gifts of a value in excess of X (for example, £10) should be accepted from a client, service user or supplier without the explicit permission from their line manager or director. Managers may instruct an employee to return a gift which they deem to be inappropriate, or refuse to accept hospitality. If the employee does not comply with this type of instruction, it will be treated as misconduct.

It will be considered an act of gross misconduct if an employee seeks to influence any other person to behave in an improper way or to confer a business advantage through the giving of any gift or hospitality. If an employee allows gifts or hospitality to influence any purchasing or business decisions they make on behalf of the organisation or allows it to influence the way in which they perform their duties, this will also be an act of gross misconduct which will usually result in dismissal.

Seek legal advice if you do not have a gifts and hospitality policy in place or if you are facing a specific workplace challenge.

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