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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44878
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Hello, I work for a company that has overseas distributors

Customer Question

Hello,

I work for a company that has overseas distributors - one of these distributors wishes to gift me money by way of a gesture for hard work supporting them. It is from an individual (not the business) from his personal account in the Gulf, he will sign a letter stating it is a cash gift to me personally and will not require reimbursement nor is there any third party interest. I have not worked to earn it aside from my usual duties it is purely a show of appreciation, albeit very generous.

My question is, if I accept this gift where do I stand legally? If my employer were to find out where would I stand? There is nothing in my contract about accepting gifts from distributors and this is not a gift from the distributors business account, this is one individual gifting me personally and he has said he wishes to do it as often as he can so not regularly but as often as he can.

Can you offer any advice?

Thanks.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 3 years ago.

Ben Jones : Hello, my name is Ben and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long have you worked there for?
JACUSTOMER-mdsx3z10- :

Hello Ben, I have been there 10 years.

Ben Jones : Thank you. Have there been previous instances of such gifts being given within the company. Are you aware of such offers heaving been made to others?
Ben Jones : Applogies in advance for any delay. I am having some maintenance done on my internet connection so may not be able to answer quickly
JACUSTOMER-mdsx3z10- :

No I'm not aware of any other offers having been made to others within the company. I think this might be the first time, I have spoken to my employer about it previously and we did agree at that time that the money would be divided 50/50, I would get 50% and I would put 50% into the company, I agreed to this because I was planning a long-term future with the company however I do not wish to put 50% into the company anymore, we have nothing in writing about it only a memorandum stating that bonus and incentive programmes may vary from time to time.

JACUSTOMER-mdsx3z10- :

No problem about the delay.

Ben Jones :

Many thanks for your patience. The act of accepting gifts from clients is an issue which can potentially fall foul of the requirements outlined in the Bribery Act 2010. As it is a relatively new piece if legislation and due to the rather wide wording, it can be difficult to work out exactly what is allowed and what is not.

A person would commit an offence if they take a bribe (described as requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting an advantage) and one of the following conditions is satisfied:

  • They take the bribe intending to perform a relevant function improperly
  • Taking the bribe itself constitutes improper performance of a relevant function
  • The bribe is intended to reward improper performance of a relevant function
  • In anticipation or in consequence of taking the bribe, a relevant function has been performed improperly

"Improper performance of a relevant function" means performance by a person in their business or other official capacity that breaches expectations of good faith, impartiality and/or trust.

So as you can see this will mainly be an issue of you are seen to act improperly as a result of accepting this gift. His is going to be a factual issue and will depend on what expectations the donor had as a result of making the gift and what you do as a result of accepting it.

The next issue would be your contract and the restrictions within it. It could be against company policy to accept such gifts and that would place you in breach of contract although you have mentioned there is no such wording contained so it should not be a problem from that respect.

Finally, it could also b a tax issue - this may be described as a gift but the HMRC do not just accept that easily and they may try and find reasons it is taxable income, although to clarify this you would need to take specialist tax advice. It is just a something to be aware of.

JACUSTOMER-mdsx3z10- :

Thanks for your reply, concerning the bribe issue the donor has no expectation/s as a result of making the gift - we have worked together for a few years now and have built a good relationship, the kind of scenarios that have led to the offer of gifts is for example, their working week begins on Sunday so they would often need support or work doing on the Saturday at short notice sent to them ready for Sunday, or sometimes late at night or they'd work over the weekends and need my input - we've worked hard and now its paying off for them they want to give me something as a sign of appreciation. I've not acted, nor intend to act improperly in my role, nor do I intend to perform my duties improperly in fact the opposite I've worked above and beyond to benefit my company. I would like to accept the gift but do not want to break the law or potentially lose my job. As they are a distributor and we are a manufacturer there is nothing I could do to benefit them apart from work harder to support them.

My contract does not say anything about accepting gifts, only that I should not take on other paid employment or take part in any other business activity.

What would your advice be as far as accepting the gift? I'll look into the tax issue.

Ben Jones :

I would still consider declaring it to the employer first because you should not be acceoting such gifts behind their back and get their approval - it is the safest option

JACUSTOMER-mdsx3z10- :

Okay no problem, I can do that. Is that your legal advice in terms if they were to find out, they would have a case against me?

Ben Jones :

It is not necessarily that they will have a case, for example they are unlikely to be able to recover any money from you but it can jeopardise your employment if they believe it is a breach of trust on your part, so to avoid any such potential issues it is my advice to declare it to them and get their approval - once you have their consent it would be difficult for them to justify taking any action against you

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your query or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this?

JACUSTOMER-mdsx3z10- :

Thanks for your advice, yes it does help. My concern was mainly to do with the legality of it - their reaction aside and how they might feel I wanted to make sure that lets say worse case scenario I lose my job but that would be it, i.e. I haven't done anything illegal in the eyes of the law and if my contract does not address accepting gifts then I have not breached the terms, it would be a trust issue.

Does it not make a difference that it is not a gift from the distributor in that entity - it is an individual sharing his own money from his personal account. If it was just a friend here helping me out there would be no issue would there?

Ben Jones :

If it was just a friend helping you out then it is not an issue but clearly there is a further link here than just friendship although as mentioned if there are no reasons linked to bribery then illegality is not really an issue

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