4th June 2010

INFORMATION
UPDATE

 Issue No.  2010/16

 Sentient
              

 

  Will the new Bribery Act 2010 affect you?

Whilst not a piece of employment legislation The Bribery Act which is due to come into force later this year (unless the new Government decide otherwise)  will have an effect on employment practices.
 
In summary the Act introduces four offences: (1) Bribing (the offering, promising or giving of an advantage); (2) Being bribed (requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting an advantage); (3) Bribing a foreign public official; and (4) the "corporate offence".
 
Whilst everyone will need to be aware of the above offences, it is the “Corporate Offence” which employers need to be specifically aware.  A company (and it’s Directors) could find themselves liable to criminal sanctions, including fines, if they fail to prevent a person who performs services on behalf of the organisation (an employee, worker or consultant) bribing (in the UK or overseas) another person, intending either to obtain or retain business for the company, or to obtain or retain an advantage in the conduct of the company's business.
 
Thankfully there is a defence; the company could escape liability if it can show that it had in place "adequate procedures" to prevent bribery.
 
You will be unsurprised to hear that the legislation does not give a definition of adequate measures but the following suggestions have been made: 
  • Responsibility for establishing an anti-corruption culture and programme should be taken at the highest level within the organisation and (dependent on the size of the organisation) a senior officer should be responsible for overseeing the anti-corruption programme.
  • There should be a clear and unambiguous code of conduct including an anti-corruption element, and procedures should be established to assess the likely risks of corruption arising in a company's business.
  • If you have values and ethic statements in place these should be reviewed to ensure they reflect the company position.
  • Employment contracts should expressly state penalties relating to corruption. (Gross Misconduct offence)
  • A gifts and hospitality policy to monitor receipt of gifts and entertainment should be established or reviewed if already in place.
  • Anti-corruption training should be provided.
  • There should be financial controls to minimise the scope for corrupt acts to be committed.
  • There should be appropriate whistleblowing procedures to enable employees to report corruption in a safe and confidential manner.
Employers are advised to review their existing procedures, decision-making processes and financial controls. If these are not already in place, they should ensure they are brought in, communicated fully and provide any necessary training, so that you can seek to rely upon the “adequate procedures” defence.
 
Where we have drawn up your disciplinary rules and procedures and you have an on-going service agreement with us, we will check through your specific documents and contact you separately if there is anything to change.

 

 

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