Acts of bribery can have serious ramifications for a business, particularly since The Bribery Act 2010 was put into force on 1 July, 2011.Understanding this act should help organisations to appreciate the legislation and deal with the risks of bribery.

Bribery is defined as giving someone a financial or other incentive to encourage them to perform their functions/activities improperly, or to reward them for having already done so.

Under the 2010 act, a new offence is created under section 7 which relates to commercial organisations who fail to prevent persons associated with them from committing the above offence and engaging in bribery on their behalf. This can relate to anyone who uses a bribe to win business, maintain business or gain an advantage for their business.

With this in mind, businesses and employers should ensure they comply with recent legislation and have sufficient procedures in place to prevent bribery (or provide adequate defence if the worst happens). There are serious consequences for those involved in bribery, backhanders and kickbacks.

To help mitigate the risks, it’s recommended that businesses put clear prevention measures in place. This will most likely include a clearly-outlined bribery prevention policy which covers the following.

  • Prohibition of the offer or acceptance of bribes by any member of the company at any level.
  • Clear guidance for procedures surrounding business transactions.
  • Clear guidance on political and charitable donations, including a prohibition of donations that can be linked to gaining a business advantage.
  • Definite rules on gifts, hospitality and promotional spend.
  • Clear procedures on recruitment and employee disciplinary measures that mitigate the risk of bribery.
  • Details on how all these anti-bribery measures will be reviewed and enforced.

Employers could also consider reviewing existing employee contracts, handbooks and disciplinary procedures to ensure that anti-bribery policies are covered in the terms of employment. This could be particularly relevant in industries that could find bribery tempting for achieving success. This would also ensure that any employee’s contract could be terminated of the grounds of bribery.

Employers might also want to consider how they can effectively communicate these anti-bribery policies to all their staff. Also, how they can ensure open, confidential channels of communication through which employees can express concerns about bribery and request support.

Official documentation of The Bribery Act 2010 can be found here or in PDF version.

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