Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy
Departmental staff must refuse all gifts, benefits and offers of hospitality wherever practical, and be able to demonstrate that they are not influenced in the performance of their duties by offers of gifts and benefits.
Occasionally in the course of your work for the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade (‘the Department’), you, or perhaps your family members, friends or associates, may be offered gifts or benefits by suppliers, clients, other persons, organisations or government entities, especially offshore. Gifts and benefits may be offered out of gratitude and goodwill for a job well done. They can also be offered to create a favourable impression or to gain preferential treatment.
Regardless of why they are offered, accepting a gift or benefit may create a sense of obligation that could compromise impartial and honest decision making. Acceptance or giving of any gifts and benefits may also impact the public perception of the integrity and independence of the Department and its staff, and in some instances can be considered corrupt conduct.
Departmental staff must refuse all gifts, benefits and offers of hospitality wherever practical, and be able to demonstrate that they are not influenced in the performance of their duties by offers of gifts and benefits. This policy outlines what to do if a gift, benefit or hospitality is offered.
This policy also sets out the requirements for staff offering gifts, benefits and hospitality on behalf of the Department, including representation (for external parties) and internal hospitality.
All persons undertaking work for or engaged by the Department in either a paid or unpaid capacity (staff) must comply with this policy.
In some countries giving gifts or hospitality is considered normal practice. However, gifts and benefits are considered a personal benefit if retained by you or your associate (for example, a family member) or another staff member. You must follow these principles:
- You should never seek or solicit a gift or benefit.
- You must not give, or accept, gifts or benefits (including offers of hospitality) in any situation that may lead to you having an actual, potential or perceived, conflict of interest.
- You must refuse all gifts, benefits and offers of hospitality where it is practical to do so.
- If it is not practical for you to refuse a gift, benefit or offer of hospitality, then you may in limited circumstances accept it – see relevant sections of this policy for guidance.
- You must keep a record of all gifts, benefits or offers of hospitality you receive, including obtaining manager and secondary approval if required.
- You may, in limited circumstances, give a gift on behalf of the Department — see Appendix A for guidance.
- You may, in limited circumstances, provide hospitality or entertainment expenditure on behalf of the Department – see Appendix B for guidance.
- Accepting monetary/financial gifts or financial benefits is prohibited in all cases, because it is likely that such a gift or benefit would be perceived as bribery, which is an offence under the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) or other local laws where the gift or benefit involves a foreign entity, employee or agency.
- You must follow and comply with the Department’s Anti-Bribery Policy, which encompasses Australian Commonwealth legislation. If in doubt, contact the Department’s General Counsel.
What is a gift, benefit or hospitality?
A gift or benefit is any item, service, prize or travel, provided by a customer, client, applicant, supplier, potential supplier, or external organisation, which has an intrinsic value and/or a value to the recipient, a member of their family, relation, friend, or associate.
Examples of gifts include items, free or discounted travel or accommodation, entertainment, hospitality.
Hospitality may include offers of meals, or to attend business networking events, sporting events, cultural events, or other functions.
Any items which are freely available to members of the public are not a gift or benefit. An example includes obtaining free tickets to a cultural institution through the institution’s public website.
When giving a gift, this includes payments made by the Department on behalf of an external party if:
- the expenditure will not be recovered from the receiver; and / or
- there is no contract for goods or services in place.
What is a prohibited gift, benefit or hospitality?
Prohibited gifts, benefits and hospitality must be immediately refused and include any item:
- that was or may have been intended to influence you to act in the interest of the giver, either now or in the future;
- that is cash or a cash equivalent (such as cheques, money orders, gift vouchers, pre-paid cards);
- that is a discount on liquid assets (such as shares) or a loan; or
- where the giver or their company / organisation is, or will be:
- involved in a tender process with the Department;
- the subject of a Department grant application or program funding recipient; or
- the subject of your (or the Department’s) discretionary decisions, power or substantial influence.
What is a reportable gift, benefit or hospitality?
Reportable gifts, benefits and hospitality must be refused if practical, and include any item:
- that is a prohibited gift, benefit or hospitality; or
- that is valued at greater than A$50 excluding tax (for staff in Australia) or over A$100 excluding tax (for staff outside Australia).
The value is calculated on the cumulative total of all gifts, benefits and hospitality previously received from the same giver, and assessed based on the:
- wholesale (tax free) value in the country of origin of the donor of the item and converted to Australian dollars at the exchange rate of the date of receipt; or
- the current market value of the item in Australia (excluding GST) – whichever is lower.
What is a token gift, benefit or hospitality?
Certain low value items are provided as tokens of appreciation or are minor amenities. For an item to be a token gift or benefit (including hospitality) it must:
- not be a reportable gift or benefit, and
- be of low value, valued at up to A$50 (for staff in Australia) or A$100 (for staff outside Australia).
Examples of token gifts and benefits include:
- perishable items such as flowers, chocolates, other food related items
- low-value product samples left by clients that are no longer required for operational purposes
- seasonal or promotional items such as calendars, pens, and paperweights
- light refreshments while attending a meeting at another company’s offices
- items which — while they may have local cultural significance — are of negligible commercial value in Australian terms, such as souvenir items
- low-value prizes won in open competition at work-related social events.
Know your responsibilities
- ensure that all their staff understand this policy and implement it effectively
- review all gifts and benefits declared to them, in accordance with this policy and the Department’s Code of Ethics and Conduct, and finalise their decision within five (5) working days of the gift or benefit being declared; and
- notify the Director Governance, Audit and Risk (for staff in Australia) or the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance (for staff outside Australia) of any gift or benefit being offered to staff about which they have concerns as to why it is being offered, and ensure a record is completed in this case even if the gift or benefit is refused.
As a Department staff member, you:
- are responsible for complying with this policy and related procedures
- are accountable for any activities involving receiving gifts or benefits and giving gifts on behalf of the Department; and
- must ensure that you act with integrity and demonstrate that you are not influenced in the performance of your duties. Specifically:
- you must not solicit gifts and benefits
- you must refuse a prohibited gift or benefit, and refuse all other gifts and benefits where practical to do so
- you may request to accept a gift or benefit where it provides relevant professional education and/or business networking opportunities; and
- where acceptance of a gift or benefit is approved you are responsible for any taxation obligations, including Fringe Benefits Tax.
Director, Governance, Audit & Risk
The Director, Governance, Audit and Risk:
- maintains the Department’s Gifts and Benefits Register for all reportable gifts and benefits, including decisions to not accept offers that are significant in value or influential in nature
- reviews the Department’s Gifts and Benefits Register on a regular basis and provides guidance and assistance to managers and staff on the application of this policy
- conducts the secondary approval of all requests (for staff in Australia) to accept a reportable gift or benefit where supported by the staff member’s manager. For staff outside Australia, the secondary approval is performed by the Deputy Secretary, Engagement, Operations & Governance
- reviews and approves any gift or benefit declared by the Secretary; and
- holds and appropriately disposes of gifts and benefits that are not to be retained by staff.
The Secretary has an obligation under the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Act 1988 to inform the ICAC of any matter which they suspect may concern corrupt conduct. Corrupt conduct includes where a public official is offered and or receives a gift or benefit where the intention of the gift or benefit was to bribe them or influence the way they work. Refer to Part 3 of the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) Act 1988 for a full description of corrupt conduct.
The Department may have additional reporting and disclosure obligations where the gift or offer takes place outside of Australia or where a foreign party is involved.
What to do if you're offered a gift or benefit
When you are offered a gift or benefit (including hospitality), the following process applies:
- Immediately refuse the offer if it is a prohibited gift or benefit, regardless of practicality.
- Refuse, where it is practical to do so, all other offers of gifts or benefits.
- Inform the giver that their information will be registered.
- Declare within five (5) working days, via the Gifts and Benefits Register:
- All offers of prohibited gifts or benefits
- All offers of reportable gifts and benefits that are unusual or of significant value (greater than A$300); and
- All reportable gifts and benefits that you have accepted, or that you wish to accept.
- Declare within five (5) working days, via an email to your manager, any token gifts or benefits that you have accepted.
- Comply with the direction provided to you by the Department about how the gift or benefit is to be dealt with, once your declaration has been reviewed.
To declare via the Gifts and Benefits Register, you must use the Department’s Gifts, Benefits and Bribes Declarations form (via myCareer).
All reportable gifts and benefits are the Department’s property until the Director Governance, Audit and Risk (or the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance for staff outside Australia) determines otherwise.
When it is not practical to refuse a gift or benefit
Sometimes it may not be practical to refuse a gift or benefit, including where refusal may cause a problem or be offensive to the person offering the gift. Wherever possible, you should immediately advise and discuss the situation with your manager. Otherwise, you may decide to accept the gift or benefit, and will then need to declare and discuss it with your manager as soon as possible.
You can generally accept hospitality if it is in accordance with your official duties and is a token gift or benefit under this policy. As a usual business practice, you should record details of all such interactions in Salesforce and in business diaries.
Considerations when you are thinking of accepting a gift or benefit
Before you consider accepting a gift or benefit, you should think about:
- the value of the gift, benefit or offer of hospitality
- the nature and regularity of the association
- the extent to which the association aligns with the Department’s objectives and ethical standards.
You should also consider how you would explain the appropriateness, and relevance of the activity to a senior manager, investigation or public inquiry.
Offers of hospitality from time to time are a normal part of conducting business — even so, you cannot accept hospitality if it falls outside the normal pattern of hospitality that is appropriate to your position and responsibilities, or there is any implication that a favour is expected in return.
Additional considerations for high-risk situations
Roles that involve regulation, procurement, contract management, revenue collection or similar functions, or have a higher level of discretionary power, have high levels of risk attached to them in relations to gifts and benefits.
If you work in a high-risk area (one where historically gifts and benefits have been offered or where you have a level of discretion in decision-making that can impact on the customer, such as an inspector or examiner), it is recommended that you always decline the gift or benefit, even if it is a token gift or benefit and even when it may cause offence.
If you have a conflict of interest, being an actual, potential or reasonably perceived conflict between your private interests and the impartial performance of your official duties, you always need to decline the gift or benefit offered, even if it is token gift or benefit.
Review and approval of gift and benefit declarations
When reviewing a gift or benefit declaration, your manager and the Director Governance, Audit and Risk (for staff in Australia) or the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance (for staff outside Australia) will refuse acceptance of a gift or benefit that:
- was intended to influence you to act in the interest of the giver, either now or in the future;
- involves or creates an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest; or
- may impair the integrity of the Department’s operations and functions.
Approval of acceptance of a gift or benefit must be unanimous, otherwise it is not approved.
Where acceptance is refused, you will be directed by the Department about how the gift or benefit is to be dealt with, including surrender and disposal.
If it is a token gift or benefit and appropriate to accept, you will generally be permitted to keep it – your manager will advise you when they discuss it with you.
If it is a reportable gift or benefit, the Director Governance, Audit and Risk (for staff in Australia) or the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance (for staff outside Australia) will determine whether you can personally keep the gift or are required to surrender it to the Department. An example of this may be gifts of cultural or ceremonial significance given by a group or organisation to the Department (not to an individual staff member).
Offers of inappropriate and prohibited gifts and benefits will be reviewed to determine whether further action is required, including under the Anti-Bribery Policy.
Disposal of tangible gifts and benefits
Depending on the nature of a reportable gift or benefit, it may be approved to be kept by the staff member; retained for use in Departmental operations; or shared and distributed amongst local staff.
In all other circumstances, tangible gifts or benefits must be disposed of as follows:
- For staff in Australia, gifts and benefits will be surrendered to the Director Governance, Audit and Risk to determine the method of disposal in consultation with the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance.
- For staff outside Australia, gifts and benefits will be surrendered to the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance to determine the method of disposal in consultation with the Director Governance, Audit and Risk or the Secretary (if necessary).
The method of disposal may include an internal raffle by staff with the proceeds going to a Departmental supported charity or Departmental social event, or to donate the gift or benefit to a charity.
Non Compliance with this policy
Failure to declare a gift, benefit or offer of hospitality in accordance with this policy may result in disciplinary action.
Behaviour contrary to this Policy is considered contrary to the Department’s Code of Ethics and Conduct and to the Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW Government Sector Employees. Such behaviour can bring individual staff into disrepute, undermine productive working relationships in the workplace, hinder customer service delivery and damage public trust in the Department and/or the broader government sector.
If you have doubts or concerns about how to apply this policy, then you should contact the Director Governance, Audit and Risk (for staff in Australia) or the Ethics and Integrity Team at firstname.lastname@example.org for further advice. For staff outside Australia, you can still contact DEIT Governance or either the relevant Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner or Agent-General in your market, or the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance, for further advice.
The Department may amend this policy from time to time as appropriate.
Next Review Date
Director Governance, Audit and Risk
1 July 2022
1 July 2023
You may — in limited circumstances — give a gift on behalf of the Department. It may be deemed appropriate to give guest presenters and/or delegates a token gift or provide hospitality:
- if doing so may be considered minor, for protocol or public relations purposes; and
- if the presentation of the gift is:
- consistent with custom (for staff outside of Australia, or for staff travelling overseas);
- promotes the Department’s interests; and
- complies with the Department’s Anti-Bribery Policy.
Staff providing a gift or benefit should ensure:
- It is provided for a business purpose. It should assist the conduct of official business or other legitimate organisational goals or promote and support the Department’s policy objectives and priorities.
- Any costs are proportionate to the benefits obtained for the Department and would be considered reasonable in terms of community expectations.
- The gift or benefit is purchased through a transparent and equitable process, particularly if they are ongoing and any selected vendor(s) can end up with a competitive industry advantage.
It is not usual practice to use the Department’s funds to purchase gifts for Departmental staff.
It is a requirement for the Department to maintain a register of the gifts it provides.
When approval has been granted to give a gift on behalf of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, the gift must be registered in the Department’s Gifts, Benefits and Bribes Declarations form (via myCareer) within five (5) working days of provision.
Gifts you must not give
You must not under any circumstance:
- give cash, or cash equivalents, as a gift;
- give a gift on behalf of the Department to a foreign public official if the gift could influence, or be seen to influence, that official. This includes paying any expenses (for example, travel and accommodation expenses) for, or in relation to, a foreign public official; or
- give a gift on behalf of the Department to a foreign public official if the gift would breach the laws of the country where the gift is given.
Obtaining approval to give a gift
You must seek approval from your line manager to give any gift on behalf of the Department.
For staff in Australia, gifts valued at A$50 or more must be approved by the Director Governance, Audit and Risk.
For staff outside Australia, gifts valued at A$100 or more must be approved by the Deputy Secretary Engagement, Operations and Governance.
Authority to approve expenditure for official hospitality and/or entertainment is in accordance with the Department’s Procurement Delegations.
Approval for any official hospitality and/or entertainment expenditure should be obtained prior to the cost being incurred. In exceptional cases, it may be necessary to seek approval as soon as possible after the expenditure has occurred, if prior approval was not possible. Managers and staff are jointly responsible for ensuring this is not a regular occurrence.
Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) may apply to the staff component of hospitality and/or entertainment expenditure. Staff are to obtain advice from the Department’s Finance Team.
Offering hospitality to external parties (representation)
Any offers of hospitality that the Department makes to an external party are considered ‘representation’.
You may only undertake representation or entertainment activities if it will enhance the Department’s interests through making key contacts or improving the quality of external relationships.
- You must not use representation or entertainment in any situation which may lead to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest.
- Your representation or entertainment expenditure must be approved by an appropriate delegate.
- Any representation and entertainment expenditure you incur must be consistent with your responsibilities:
- to manage public resources efficiently, effectively, economically and ethically; and
- to maintain proper accounts and records of the receipt and expenditure of public money.
In addition, any expenditure by staff on official hospitality and/or entertainment must be in accordance with the following principles:
- It is provided for an official business purpose. It should assist the conduct of official business or other legitimate organisational goals or promote and support Government policy objectives and priorities.
- The expense must be correctly and accurately documented.
- The expense must generate direct benefits for the Department. The hospitality and/or entertainment must result in, or be reasonably expected to contribute to, achieving the Department’s objectives and should not be used merely for social occasions.
- When hospitality is provided, staff involved must demonstrate professionalism in their conduct and uphold their obligation to extend a duty of care to other participants.
Offering hospitality to internal staff
Staff must comply with the Code of Ethics and Conduct for NSW Government Sector Employees issued by the Public Service Commissioner, as well as the Department’s Code of Ethics and Conduct. This includes using public resources efficiently and effectively and preserving the public’s trust in the Department to act in the public interest.
Following this principle, internal staff attending Departmental events or functions should be limited to those necessary to advance the Departments interests. Generally, for large scale functions, employees should comprise the minor proportion of those attending. For smaller functions (for example a dozen people) the number of Department employees (including spouses) should be in balance with the number of external parties.
Using your corporate card for representation and entertainment
You must use your corporate card to pay for representation and entertainment expenditure if it is practical to do so.
The most senior Departmental staff member attending the function must use their corporate card when settling representation and entertainment expenses.
When you must not undertake representation or entertainment
You must not undertake representation or entertainment in any situation which may lead to a conflict of interest, or a perception of conflict of interest.
You must not incur representation or entertainment expenditure on:
- functions to welcome or farewell staff;
- functions for the sole purpose of entertaining staff;
- club membership fees, other than professional memberships where approved;
- gifts or flowers for staff; and
- activities undertaken with foreign public officials if this could be seen as an attempt to influence the official to gain or retain business or a business advantage.