Unfortunately, this scenario is not the norm, and some perks can actually land employees, and sometimes their employers, in hot water.
Why is it an issue?
There’s a big difference between a perk that is provided by an employer and a gift or benefit that is given by an external party. Gifts and benefits can take almost any form, including:
- Cash or shares.
- Items promoting an organisation (for example, t-shirts with a logo).
- Air tickets, accommodation and car hire.
- Wine and meals.
- Theatre and sports tickets.
- Discounted commercial items.
The risk of an employee accepting gifts and benefits is that the employee is not necessarily acting in the best interests of the employer or client; they are acting in their own interests. This is a particular issue in the area of procurement.
Gifts and benefits in the public sector
Sometimes in the public sector, gifts and benefits can be construed as undermining public confidence. The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC), in its Gifts and Benefits Policy, gives the example of a tender process that is supposed to be open and transparent. If the decision-maker has received a gift from the tender-winning organisation, there may be a perception that the decision was influenced.
Gifts and benefits in the private sector
- Reminding employees of their fundamental obligations to act in the employer’s best interests.
- What is acceptable interaction with external parties.
- What gifts and benefits should be disclosed (for example, valuable gifts or regular lunches hosted by the external party).
- How gifts and benefits should be disclosed.
- Appropriate measures in place to prevent procurement fraud.
- Consequences for inappropriately accepting gifts and benefits, for example disciplinary measures and termination of employment.