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    Bribery law heralds caution over corporate Christmas gifts


    Employers should beware of tough new anti-bribery laws when giving or receiving corporate gifts this Christmas.

    The Bribery Act affects everyone from global businesses to individuals, prompting the Royal Mail’s recent warning to postal workers to refuse Christmas gifts worth more than £30.

    Roger Spence, head of Employment law at Preston-based Harrison Drury Solicitors, commented: “This will be the first festive season to be affected by the Act, which makes it illegal to offer or receive bribes, and to fail to prevent bribery.

    “Christmas is high season for corporate hospitality and giving. Despite the downturn, some businesses might be tempted to splash out to keep key customers on board, and a number of grey areas make this a risky undertaking.”

    Ministry of Justice guidelines say corporate gifts that are ‘reasonable and proportionate’ will not lead to problems, but no cash levels have been stipulated. This means companies must decide for themselves on ‘appropriate standards’.

    Roger Spence continued: “Clearly giving away a foreign holiday would be overstepping the mark, while sending someone a logoed memory stick would be fine. However, a case of champagne or an expensive Christmas hamper might cause problems.

    “One of the main issues for businesses is to ensure they have an adequate anti-bribery procedure in place that all employees and sub-contractors should follow. An adequate procedure will represent a defence if the company is charged with failing to prevent bribery.”

    Roger Spence added: “Regardless of the size of your business it is important to comply with the new rules by carrying out a risk assessment and introducing anti-bribery procedures.”

    For more information on The Bribery Act, or any other employment law issue, please contact Roger Spence on 01772 258321.

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