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Employment Lawyer on Christmas presents and the issue of Bribery

Christmas presents: What's the worst that could happen? A novelty tie? Even more sinister than that...

Accepting a gift from a business contact could land you in hot water at work. Since the Bribery Act came into force in 2011, companies have become more aware of the possibility of prosecution. Employers are keeping a closer eye than ever before on the giving and receiving of corporate gifts and hospitality.  

Before you discreetly edge that branded mousemat into a drawer; not all business gifts are unlawful. A gift will only be a bribe if it is given with the intention of influencing a business decision. Likewise, not all corporate hospitality is prohibited. So you don't necessarily have an excuse to decline your invitation to the supplier's Christmas party.  

Many companies now have a policy on gifts and hospitality. These policies often require that employees declare all gifts to a manager, that gifts over a certain monetary value should be declined and that cash gifts are never acceptable. An employer can be prosecuted for the actions of its employees, so these policies tend to be strictly enforced. Breaking the rules will usually be considered gross misconduct, allowing an employer to sack the offending employee without notice.

So if you are lucky enough to receive a gift this Christmas check what your company's rules are and make sure you stick to them.