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A10.2: Main page

Code on gifts and material hospitality

1. Introduction and background

1.1 This appendix sets out the rules governing the acceptance or provision of gifts, material hospitality or other benefits during the course of your employment. The rules do not apply to attendance at BBSRC, Scottish MRP or RESAS Boards and Committees and other BBSRC, Scottish MRP or RESAS organised events.

1.2 Material hospitality, entertainment, gifts or other benefits have the potential for accusations to be made of improper conduct or inappropriate use of public funds, and although in the majority of cases the sums involved may be small, there may still be instances which attract unwanted attention from external sources. Such things can also raise concerns of regularity and propriety, which could be seen to compromise personal judgement or integrity. These can include benefits received through loyalty schemes which give personal rewards to its members (see paragraph 1.3). You must therefore comply with these rules. This is particularly important if you are in contact with contractors, suppliers and consultants.

1.3 Loyalty schemes

These are, by definition, designed to be for the benefit of the issuing company or group by encouraging a pattern of expenditure in their favour. Staff using such schemes could be perceived as being influenced in their behaviour or pattern of expenditure by the offer of a reward/benefit by purchasing from a particular service or company. Therefore, establishment money, either directly or indirectly, cannot be used to promote such schemes. Further information on loyalty schemes is in paragraph 2.5 below.

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2. Rules and procedures

You must inform your Head of Operations (establishments) or the Governance Team (Swindon Office) of all gifts and all material hospitality (including benefits accrued from the use of a loyalty card), whether given or received, if the value of any individual item exceeds £25 (see paragraph 3 below), and you may also be required to surrender a gift you have received if the value exceeds £75 (see paragraph 3 below). You must also monitor the total value of gifts received from the same supplier in a tax year. If the total value exceeds £250 you must inform your Head of Operations (establishments) or the Governance Team (Swindon Office). In addition, you must adhere to the following at all times:

2.1 Gifts given

  • gifts can be given only in exceptional circumstances, usually at promotional or public relations events, or in reciprocal situations such as international activities
  • wherever possible gifts must be limited to inexpensive items, e.g. diaries, calendars etc.
  • the cost of gifts to be given must be established beforehand and will be subject to agreed financial limits and normal lines of authorisation

2.2 Gifts received

  • in general, you must decline offers of gifts unless to do so would cause serious embarrassment, but small, inexpensive gifts can be accepted e.g. diaries, calendars
  • you may accept more substantial gifts only where refusal is likely to cause serious embarrassment (you may have to surrender these – see paragraph 3 below)

2.3 Material hospitality given

  • you must make a case for provision of material hospitality before the event, stating what will be provided and the cost
  • the Group Director/Head of Operations must approve any hospitality beforehand

2.4 Material hospitality received

  • you must be careful when accepting hospitality to avoid suspicion that your actions may have been, or could be, influenced by it
  • lunches and dinners provided at meetings during the normal course of business are normally acceptable
  • if in doubt you should consult your line manager

2.5 Loyalty Schemes

  • Loyalty scheme and loyalty cards that give personal rewards to an employee (e.g. bonuses, discounts, points etc. that can be used or converted for future purchases) must not be used in the purchase of or payment for goods and services if the cost of such goods or services is to be reclaimed from BBSRC. Loyalty cards must not be presented along with the usual method of payment, such as cash, credit/debit cards etc. while on BBSRC business
  • One exception to this line is the use of cards which automatically provide loyalty points or rewards, and are credit cards in their own right. The use of these cards is not normally determined or influenced by the presentation of a separate loyalty card at specific outlets. The use of these credit cards need not be declared unless the benefits accrued in a transaction exceed £25 (see paragraph 3 below)
  • A further exception is the accumulation of air miles. In these instances staff should not benefit personally from the accumulation of air miles, but should use them to offset the cost of other journeys on BBSRC business.

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3. Recording and disposal of gifts/hospitality etc.

Provided you follow the rules and guidelines in paragraph 2 above, no action is necessary if a gift or some material hospitality (including benefits accrued from the use of a loyalty card) is either given or received by you provided the value amounts to no more than £25 and/or the total value of gifts received does not exceed £250 in a tax year from one supplier; and you may retain any such gifts you receive.

Gifts or material hospitality with a value above £25 and/or £250 in a tax year from one supplier (including benefits accrued from the use of a loyalty card), whether given or received by you, must be notified to the Head of Operations (establishments) or the Governance Team (Swindon Office) as soon as possible by sending them details using the form for recording gifts and material hospitality found in appendix A10.2i. The information provided will be held in the gifts and hospitality register maintained for that purpose by the Governance Team.

You may retain gifts received of such value provided details have been so notified, and provided the value does not exceed £75 (£125 for gifts from foreign governments or international organisations).

If the value of the gift does exceed £75/£125 you must surrender it to your Head of Operations (establishments) or Group Director (Swindon Office). The surrender is recorded on the form for recording gifts and material hospitality. The Head of Operations/Group Director will decide on the disposal of surrendered gifts in one of three ways:

  • retention by the BBSRC/establishment for display
  • sale of the gift(s) and retention of funds by the BBSRC or establishment
  • retention by the initial recipient

The decision must be noted on the form for recording gifts and material hospitality.

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4. Control

The Head of Operations/Governance Team is responsible for providing assurance to the BBSRC Executive Chair/establishment Director that this area is being properly controlled.

Every six months, the Head of Operations (establishments) or the Governance Team (Swindon Office) will send a report to the establishment Director (or Office Management Group for Swindon office). Every year the Governance Team sends a report to the BBSRC Audit Committee for Swindon Office.

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Last updated 02/03/17
Amendment 198 – March 2017