Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy
Our Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy outlines what you, your family members, friends or associates should do when offered gifts or benefits by the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade suppliers, clients, other persons, organisations or government entities, especially offshore.
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 given, accepting a gift of 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.
Departmental staff must 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 you are in this situation.
References in this policy to A$ means Australian dollars. Where a foreign country is involved, the exchange rate published on the date a gift or benefit is received shall be applied to determine the applicability of this policy.
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 must not make improper use of your position to gain, or seek to gain, a personal benefit or advantage.
- You must not give, or accept, gifts or benefits (including offers of hospitality) in any situation that may lead to you having a real, or a 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 may — in limited circumstances — give a gift on behalf of the Department — 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 Executive Director Governance approval if required – see relevant sections of this policy 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.
When you are considering whether to accept a gift, benefit or offer of hospitality, you should think about:
- the value of the gift, benefit or offer of hospitality;
- the nature of the association;
- the regularity of the association; and
- 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.
What is a gift or benefit?
A gift or benefit is any item or service that would, or potentially could, result in an actual or perceived conflict of interest.
Gifts include any item or service you receive from clients (including potential clients) in the course of your official duties, and any service or item received by an associate where there is a clear link with your official duties.
Examples of gifts include items, free or discounted travel or accommodation, entertainment, hospitality.
In the case of 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 hospitality?
Hospitality may include offers of meals, or to attend business networking events, sporting events, cultural events, or other functions.
Offering hospitality from time to time is a normal part of conducting business — even so, you must be cautious about offers of hospitality:
- if they fall outside the normal pattern of hospitality that is appropriate to your position and responsibilities; or
- if there is any implication that a favour is expected in return.
What is considered low value?
Low value is up to A$50. The value is assessed based on the:
- wholesale (tax free) value in the country of origin of the donor of the gift and converted to Australian dollars at the exchange rate of the date of receipt; or
- the current market value of the gift in Australia (excluding GST).
Know your responsibilities
All managers are responsible for ensuring that all their staff understand this policy and implement it effectively.
Approval of all reportable gifts or benefits declared to a manager must be considered in light of this policy, and the Department’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
- Ensure their approval is finalised and ready for secondary approval by the Executive Director Governance and recording of the gift or benefit.
- Notify the Executive Director Governance of any gifts or benefits being offered to your staff about which you 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 not accepted.
Managers and the Executive Director Governance are responsible for actioning gifts and benefits reported to them within five (5) working days of the gift or benefit being declared.
Approval of acceptance of a gift or benefit must be unanimous, otherwise it is not approved.
As a Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade staff member, you are:
- responsible for complying with this policy and related procedures; and
- are accountable for any activities involving receiving gifts or benefits and giving gifts on behalf of the Department.
As a Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade staff member, you must ensure that you act with integrity and demonstrate that you are not influenced in the performance of your duties. Specifically:
- staff must not solicit gifts and benefits or accept inducements or cash;
- staff are encouraged to accept offers that provide professional education and/or business networking opportunities;
- gifts or benefits provided to a family member, relation, friend or associate are also prohibited; and
- any Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade staff members who accept a gift or benefit are responsible for any taxation obligations, including Fringe Benefits Tax.
If you have doubts or concerns about how to apply this policy, then you should contact the Executive Director Governance for further advice.
- Executive Director Governance Maintains the Department’s Gifts and Benefits Register recording all staff requests for acceptance of gifts and benefits in excess of A$50, 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.
- If a gift or benefit receives primary approval from the staff member’s manager and is deemed appropriate, the Executive Director Governance will provide secondary approval and advise the staff member in writing that the gift or benefit has been formally approved. Where the Executive Director Governance considers it appropriate, they will refer it to the Deputy Secretary Corporate and Governance for further consideration.
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 corruption, including bribery. Actions and behaviours of a more serious nature e.g., misconduct. Such matters are dealt with under a separate policy.
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
In all situations where you are considering accepting a gift or benefit and refusal is not an option, immediately advise and discuss with your manager. If the gift or benefit is under the value of A$50 and appropriate, you will generally be permitted to keep it, provided it is not a monetary/financial gift or benefit, or being offered on a regular basis – your manager will advise you when you discuss with them.
On the rare occasion that you accepted the gift or benefit prior to consulting your manager or gaining your manager’s and the Executive Director Governance’s approval you must inform them as soon as practicable. In situations where refusing to accept a gift may cause a problem (e.g., offending the provider) you must determine the value of the item within five (5) working days of receipt.
In cases that concern accepting a physical gift with a value of A$50 or more, a decision will be made by your manager and the Executive Director Governance as to 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).
Criteria for approval
Your manager and the Executive Director Governance will take into account whether the gift or benefit was intended to influence you to act in the interest of the giver, either now or in the future.
Non-reportable gifts and benefits
Certain low value gifts and benefits are non-reportable. If you receive a non-reportable gift, you may keep it for your personal use without formal approval, but you must inform your line manager of the gift or benefit via email.
Non-reportable gifts and benefits must be valued at less than A$50 and 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;
- 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; and
- discounts on goods or services which are generally available to members of the public or the diplomatic community.
Reportable gifts and benefits
Reportable gifts and benefits include:
- any gift or benefit which does not appear in the list above of non-reportable gifts and benefits; and
- any gift or benefit (including hospitality) valued over A$50 excluding tax.
If you receive any reportable gift or benefit (including offers of substantial hospitality) then you must:
- record the item/service using the Department’s Gifts, Benefits and Bribes Declarations form (via myCareer) within seven days of receipt;
- submit the entry to the Executive Director Governance to determine the method of disposal or use for official purposes; and
- inform the giver that their information will be registered. All reportable gifts received are the Department’s property until the Executive Director Governance determines otherwise. Individual officers are not to retain reportable gifts as personal property.
You must register a gift or benefit in situations where you are offered, but don’t accept, a gift or benefit of significant value (for example more than A$300), or if you believe the offer has been made to induce you to provide preferential treatment. In all situations you must be aware of and understand your role and responsibilities to protect your reputation and that of the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade, ensuring no negative consequences for the Department.
Gifts and/or benefits accepted by the Secretary require notification to and approval by the Executive Director Governance. Gifts and benefits of significant value offered to the Secretary will need to be registered.
Disposal of tangible gifts and benefits
If a reportable gift can be used in Departmental operations (for example, food or beverage that can be used at official staff, or social, functions), then it can be retained.
In all other circumstances, tangible gifts or benefits must be disposed of according to the advice of the Executive Director Governance.
- Usually gifts valued over A$50 will be surrendered to the Executive Director Governance. The Executive Director Governance, in consultation with the Deputy Secretary, Corporate and Governance, will decide regarding disposal method, such as an internal raffle by staff with the proceeds going to a Departmental supported charity or for Departmental social events.
Depending on the value and/or type of gift, however, there may be occasions when the manager and the Executive Director Governance agree that it is acceptable for the gift to be kept by the staff member.
In the case of perishable gifts such as chocolates or food hampers, etc. an appropriate method for disposal of the gift could be to share or distribute the gift amongst the staff or stakeholders within overseas offices, or alternatively donate the gift to a charity.
Where it is decided that the gift will be shared among staff, then physical surrender of the gift to the Executive Director Governance is not required. However, the gift must be declared with the method of disposal stated and recorded on the Gifts and Benefits Register.
Declaration of gifts
Failure to officially declare an accepted gift and/or benefit with a value of A$50 or more 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.
Gifts and benefits that must not be accepted
You must not under any circumstance accept:
- a gift of cash, or cash equivalents;
- discounts on liquid assets (such as shares); or
- a gift, or benefit (including hospitality), from a person or company if:
- they are involved in a tender process with the Department; or
- hasn’t had their licence suspended or cancelled.
Instructions for giving gifts and benefits
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 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 the 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, please contact the Governance, Property and Global team at InternationalOperationsSydney@nswgov.onmicrosoft.com to register the details.
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.
Gifts valued at A$50 or more excluding tax must be approved by the Executive Director Governance.
Instructions for receiving hospitality
You may accept hospitality if it is in accordance with your official duties and is not a reportable gift under this policy.
As a usual business practice, you should record details of all such interactions in Salesforce and in business diaries.
Hospitality exceeding A$50 or more excluding tax and offers of hospitality which are unusual or of a high value, must be declared and recorded in the Gifts, Benefits and Bribes Declarations form.
Approval of hospitality and/or entertainment expenditure
Authority to approve expenditure for official hospitality and/or entertainment is consistent with the Department’s Procurement Delegations (Category B, or delegate’s manager).
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
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 actual 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.
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.
The Department may amend this policy from time to time as appropriate.
|Team/Person||Latest version||Next Review Date|
|Executive Director Governance||March 2022||March 2023|