In November we will see the outcome of the first prosecution under the Bribery Act 2010, as an employee of a London Magistrates Court is due to be sentenced having been found guilty of Bribery after accepting money in exchange for getting rid of a speeding charge.
Although this appears to be a clear cut case, we confess to being somewhat surprised, having assumed that the first cases we would see in court would be much bigger, involving greater financial implications and be concerned with more corporate matters.
This leads us to suggest that organisations of all sizes really must ensure they have considered the implications of the Bribery Act on their business.
The intention of the Act is to prevent Bribery from occurring in functions of a business, trade or profession, or functions of a public nature and is concerned with financial or other advantages inducing a person to perform improperly. There are offences defined within the Act relating to offering a bribe, receiving a bribe, and failing to prevent bribery.
This very broad definition meant that the Act came into force in July 2011 amidst much concern about what would and would not be considered Bribery. Could gifts be sent to employees of a client, was it okay to take a key supplier out to dinner, and would inviting prospective customers to a corporate box at a sports event be seen as just a step too far?
As we approach the festive season when traditionally many companies send corporate gifts and invites, we anticipate that many business owners will now be considering what is acceptable and if their intended tokens of goodwill and cheer might fall foul of the Bribery Act.
The guidelines suggest that gifts, hospitality invites or other similar actions will generally be acceptable if you can show that:
You are providing genuine business hospitality / promotional gifts
Your activities are proportionate and reasonable
They are not intended to / do not induce anyone else to perform improperly
Currently it appears that it will be up to each business to decide what that means for them and how they can evidence it. If you are thinking about this in your business for the first time, then we’d suggest that you consider the following too:
– Review your employment contracts, policies and procedures to ensure they clearly define how the giving and receiving of corporate gifts or hospitality should be handled and what the consequences are for not abiding by the company rules
– Carry out a risk assessment to identify any areas where the potential for Bribery is greatest within your business, and put any appropriate control measures in place
– If appropriate from that Risk Assessment, introduce a Policy for the Prevention of Bribery
– Provide training or guidance for senior managers and directors to ensure that they maintain the standards you have set within the Policy
– Review the actions of suppliers, partners or anyone else who acts on the company’s behalf to ensure that they have adequate Bribery prevention measures in place
We are delighted to provide guest articles for North Hampshire Enterprise and we’d love to be in contact with other NHE members. You can contact Sam on 07816 316598, sam@vivoHR.co.uk