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Bribery....

JaffasGirlJaffasGirl Trusted RegularRegistered Posts: 387
Helloo!

Was just wondering if someone could help clear up the whole Bribery Act thing lol. Its not for study, just purely for my own knowledge.

I have always thought of bribery as an act where you pay money or give gifts to someone in the hope that they will give you either a financial or other kind of 'reward' or compensation, that they wouldn't normally have given.

Therefore, what is this whole thing about not giving your postman a fiver at christmas? What exactly could that 'bribe' your postman to do? deliver your post? or am i being naive? lol

Also, i work in an estate agency. We sometimes receive gifts from happy clients (yes it does happen!) would this be bribery in some form? even though the transaction in complete? and in the case of the buyers, they have no way of hoping we will give them any sort of 'money off' like we could a vendor (not that we do, or could, the housing market is shite!!)

Sorry if this is a bit rambley, but it has been bugging me, and the more i read on it, the more it seems to contradictits self!

Thanks

Comments

  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    I have links at work

    But the bribery act actually says hospitality and gifts are ok, as long as they are reasonable.

    Like a box of chocolates given to you is ok, but if it was a car for example, it's obvious a little more is expected of you. The only complicated is gifts shouldn't just be put in your car boot, but declared in your office in some way then shared between staff.
  • JaffasGirlJaffasGirl Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 387
    just to play devils advocate, but what happens if the gift is given to me specifically? for example, i went out of my way to help two people moving into their first property, it took a lot of handholding, but I really just liked being able to help them, and when it completed they gave me a bottle of wine, I didnt expect it, and i certainly didnt ask for it, but it was a gift to me cause they were grateful, so is that not allowed to just be for me?

    Sorry if im being a bit blonde, but i can understand what sort of things are not allowed, but i just dont understand why? for example my postman example above? what exactly are you bribing them to do? bring your post first? lol
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    The bribery rules are quite strict, I'm sure you could put the wine in your boot and nothin would happen, it's unlikely you'd break any rules to get a bottle of wine. Neither is your employer likely to find out about it..

    What if any bribery policy does your employer have?

    From a company point of view you'd want to made sure certain customers aren't getting pcerential treatment because of bribes staff are getting. And while a bottle of wine in that case would be seen as a reasonable gift for that type of business relationship, by declaring it with your employer you are keeping totally ethical in your actions, it can also be split evenly with staff in a fair way, as poor old admin staff that make all the systems work everyday don't get a bottle of wine. Doing that would help display a non bribery work practice to the bribery people if they ever did inspect.
  • JaffasGirlJaffasGirl Trusted Regular Registered Posts: 387
    To be honest, we don't have any sort of policy in place, I'm the only member of staff the two managers are the owners of the franchise. I am also the 'poor admin staff' lol so i do everything anyway. We only tend to get presents once a sale has completed, so there is not preferential treatment to be done afterwards. I did tell my boss about it, and i got told if it had been red wine he would have taken it (but he is an arse) i don't see it as a secret, but at the same time, why should my boss get the benefit of something that was for me?

    In reality, I'm not that bothered about sharing it, I'm just wondering what the justification is? So basically as long as i don't keep it a secret, its pretty much fine? lol I don't think there will be any problems, i just wondered how to put it into practice lol
  • payrollpropayrollpro Trusted Regular Hampshire/SurreyRegistered, Working Together with HMRC Posts: 418
    Hi everyone,

    I wondered when people would start discussing this, another piece of legislative, knee jerk junk. We have to remember that the act was borne out of the aerospace scandal and the perceived inducement paid to a foreign country in anticipation of a multi billion £ contract that protected the jobs of thousands of british workers, sorry was that a bit cynical?. In reality the true effects of such a flawed piece of legislation will be felt at the lowest levels, i.e. the bottle of wine given as a thank you for work done, or efforts over and above the norm.

    I think you should have a policy in place and I think the policy should state catagorically that the gifts being debated here are acceptable as long as they are declared and that the giver is complying with their legal obligations to have a TAS or similar disclosure.

    Where the gift occurs after the work is completed and is from a member of the public then firstly there has been no inducement for you to give preferrential treatment and secondly they have no obligation to declare the gift.

    I say keep doing what your doing, have a policy and a book to declare all gifts given and received and note the reasons. We all need to wait for futute tribunal and court case summaries to determine just how far and how ridiculous this thing will get.

    In the meantime any suitable red will be gratefully accepted by me, will satisfy the requirements of my policies and will never induce me to provide anything other than open and frank guidance to anyone who asks!

    Payrollpro
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    payrollpro wrote: »
    Where the gift occurs after the work is completed and is from a member of the public then firstly there has been no inducement for you to give preferrential treatment and secondly they have no obligation to declare the gift.

    Until it becomes common practice... Then how do you argue there's no preferential treatment.

    You're right in it being a knee jerk reaction, you can tell with all the initial confusion, but it is powerful so sadly can't be ignored.

    So, ignoring the act itself, its good for a company to have a policy anyway.

    An employer needs to know who their staff are acting on behalf of. We have a lot of cases of staff buying things privately from our suppliers, it would be classed as a bribe if they're getting things at discounted prices to influence them to give better terms when buying on behalf of the company. ie costing the company more for their bargains!
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    Let's not get carried away.

    The Act states that “Bona fide hospitality and promotional, or other business expenditure which seeks to improve the image of a commercial organisation, better to present products and services, or establish cordial relations, is recognised as an established and important part of doing business and it is not the intention of the Act to criminalise such behaviour."

    I would go as far as saying there is probably very little covered by the act for business to business relationships between two commercial organisations, certainly in terms of financial transactions. Perhaps inducements to ignore protocol, break the law, ignore health and safety issues, turn a blind eye to illegality then yes but not for wining and dining in order to make you a 'preferred' supplier.

    The real problems arise where public bodies are concerned (either in the UK or abroad) in particular granting of public funds, licences, political influence etc.

    I don't believe the issue of staff having a conflict of interest between what is best for their employer and what is best for them (i.e. receiving gifts personally from suppliers) is intended to be covered by the act either. That is just as much of an issue in terms of what the employers policy is on such things before the act came out as it is now.

    Most firms I have worked for have something in the staff handbook that states that all gifts must be declared (and given) to the employer for a decision on what is to be done.

    My wife's employer explicitly states that the acceptance of gifts is not allowed so they have about thirty bottles of wine in their store cupboard that never get distributed to the staff that were given them! Bah humbug!
  • PGMPGM Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,954
    Let's not get carried away.

    You're absolutely right, a lot of people are getting carried away with this, suddenly thinking every gift or drink bought for them is a bribe, and the act says reasonable gifts and hospitality is ok. Defining what is reasonable is left to interpretation, but thats generally quite obvious..

    I don't believe the issue of staff having a conflict of interest between what is best for their employer and what is best for them (i.e. receiving gifts personally from suppliers) is intended to be covered by the act either. That is just as much of an issue in terms of what the employers policy is on such things before the act came out as it is now.

    That is what is covered. A bribe is what creates a conflict of interest. If the employee then acts in a different way than they would do normally.

    On the subject of getting carried away, I believe we lose a substantial amount of money every year due to bribe type activities. And thats why I got involved with putting a policy in place, and its obviously relevant with how happy some people are, when they realised we weren't going back and looking at things in the past! :D
  • deanshepherddeanshepherd Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 1,809
    PGM wrote: »
    A bribe is what creates a conflict of interest. If the employee then acts in a different way than they would do normally.

    On the subject of getting carried away, I believe we lose a substantial amount of money every year due to bribe type activities.

    It depends on the circumstances of course but the employee is not necessarily doing anything illegal, they are just acting in their own interests rather than that of the employer. I'm not convinced that's any more than a staff management issue, rather than a bribery one.

    It can of course cost the employer lots of money (as it does in your case) but there are lots of things staff do (or don't do) that costs companies money, it does not always make it illegal activity.

    Although I expect many employers could use the bribery act as a scare tactic to discourage such self-interest, in the absence of a better disciplinary process.

    Interesting.
  • blobbyhblobbyh Font Of All Knowledge Registered Posts: 2,415
    I remember posting about the Bribery Act in late 2009 when it was originally due to be introduced in April 2010 (I think). Got very few replies back then, if any.

    Being as cynical as Payroll Pro, I can't help wondering if the failed English World Cup bid had anything to do with the deferment and the (eventual) unsuccessful palm greasing that we suspect must have taken place? Might have seemed a bit rich to introduce an anti-corruption act when the British government and even royalty were trying to "secure" the favours of voting nations.

    As an international recruitment agency, we court some of the worlds biggest banks and technology companies but there's a sensible difference between entertaining a client and offering them a £50,000 bung for exclusive recruiting rights. It's currently a hot ("flavour of the month"?!) topic but don't produce an OTT policy that ends up straight-jacketing your sales people.

    For some reason, I now have the "You buy one, you get one free" advert in my mind now and thinking where the line is drawn!
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