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Bribery at Work

You may well have joked that you’d do anything for a piece of chocolate/glass of wine/ week in the sun (whatever it might be) but the chances are that if required to do so you would only do what was lawful and reasonable. In other words, you wouldn’t take or offer a bribe.

Just as well. Bribery is a serious matter and carries heavy criminal penalties. So far as employment is concerned, the Bribery Act came into force in 2010 and places duties upon employers to take reasonable steps to prevent anyone working for them from engaging in bribery.

The Act makes it an offence to offer, promise or give a financial or other advantage to another person either:

  • with the intention of inducing or rewarding improper performance by another person of a relevant function or activity or to reward such improper performance; or
  • in the knowledge or belief that the acceptance of the advantage offered, promised or given would constitute the improper performance of such a function or activity (including public, state or business activities or any activity performed in the course of a person’s employment, or on behalf or another company or individual, where the person performing that activity is expected to perform it in good faith, impartially, or in accordance with a position of trust).

A criminal offence will be committed under the Bribery Act 2010 if:

  • an employee or associated person acting for, or on behalf of, the Company offers, promises, gives, requests, receives or agrees to receive bribes; or
  • an employee or associated person acting for, or on behalf of, the Company offers, promises or gives a bribe to a foreign public official with the intention of influencing that official in the performance of his/her duties (where local law does not permit or require such influence); and
  • the company does not have the defence that it has adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery by its employees or associated persons.

Not every company needs an anti-bribery policy in force. Many small businesses will be at very low risk of employees engaging in bribery due to their set-up and the sector they deal in.

Carry out a short risk assessment to decide how high the risk of bribery is and whether you need to take any action to prevent it from occurring.

Consider the following areas.

  • The countries you operate in, especially if outside the UK, EU and US.
  • Sectors especially oil, gas, mining, construction and large-scale infrastructure.
  • The transactions you make.
  • Opportunities for corruption.
  • Pressure for results – this is perceived to cause employees to be more open to bribery in order to obtain results.

To reduce your risk:

  • set up anti-bribery monitoring systems in particularly high risk areas of the business;
  • have a senior manager/director responsible for updating anti-bribery systems and re-assess threats;
  • ensure directors and senior managers actively promote honesty and integrity; and
  • ensure all relevant employees are sufficiently trained in identifying and avoiding possible bribery.

Always have guidance written down and available. If you provide training, get a signature and date from the employee to confirm he/she underwent the training.

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Although every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this blog, nothing herein should be construed as giving advice and no responsibility will be taken for inaccuracies or errors.

Copyright © 2018 all rights reserved. You may copy or distribute this blog as long as this copyright notice and full information about contacting the author are attached. The author is Kate Russell of Russell HR Consulting Ltd.

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