From time to time employees may be offered gifts by clients, customers, product representatives, other business connections, or even competitors.  Although there is nothing wrong in principle with receiving gifts, in some circumstances it can look inappropriate.

For instance, an employee who works in an official role or holds a position of responsibility might be accused of taking bribes, or acting in conflict with the employer’s interests.

Sometimes what seems a perfectly acceptable gift to one person can be viewed very differently by another. 

Each workplace will be different, so it is very difficult to set out a blanket rule.  For this reason, it is wise for employers to think about whether they should have a policy in place, and also what that policy should cover.  Where there is no official guidance (as there is for instance for Government officials), the best way to proceed is to ensure that there is a clear workplace policy in place that outlines when, or if, an employee may accept gifts.

When drafting a policy about accepting gifts, there are several questions an employer should ask itself:

  • Are rules necessary in the particular workplace to regulate gifting?
  • What behaviour needs to be controlled? Gifting of significant value items, or gifting at all?
  • Would a value limit on gifts be sufficient, or should all gifts received by an employee be declared to the employer, or surrendered?

Employers should include a term in all their employment agreements that employees agree to follow all rules in their workplace policy manual.  Employers can then update their policy manuals as required, and communicate the changes, without the need to require all employees to sign new agreements.  

A gifts policy is just one example of the types of things that can be included in a policy manual.  Other policies like cyber safety, uniform codes, codes of conduct, drug and alcohol use (and many more) can also be included.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins, we have an experienced employment law team, who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.

We are ready to assist you remotely via telephone, email and video call. 

Jaenine Badenhorst
Associate Lawyer

 


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