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Know your way around the Bribery Act

A year after the introduction of the Bribery Act, do you know what your organisation needs to do to comply?

A year after the Bribery Act came into force, many organisations are still unclear about what it covers and what they need to do to comply. HR departments have a key role to play in getting it right.

The Act set out two types of offence:the first, of 'active' bribery, covers the offering, promising or giving of a bribe. The second is 'passive' bribery - that is, requesting, agreeing to receive, or the accepting of a bribe. Under the Act, it's an offence if an organisation fails to take adequate steps to prevent its staff from engaging in bribery. The Act also has extra-territorial powers, making it an offence to bribe foreign public officials.

What the Act doesn't do is prohibit genuine promotional and other business expenditure, such as providing tickets for sporting events, promotional gifts or taking clients to dinner. However, organisations must now keep transparent records of hospitality expenditure, and must ensure that any promotional activities are reasonable and proportionate. Importantly, too, organisations must be able to show that they have assessed the risks of bribery in their organisation and have taken proportionate measures to prevent it.

HR teams have a crucial role to play in making sure that anti-bribery and anti-corruption procedures are in place. This can mean reviewing existing policies, procedures and contracts, as well as things like service and consultancy agreements. Other areas that are likely to need considering are gifts, hospitality and staff expenses policies. Ongoing staff training and awareness-building is also essential to building a corporate culture that has no place for bribery on any scale. Companies should also consider introducing a whistleblowing policy to make it easier for staff to report any acts of bribery.

Acas provides summary guidance on complying with the Bribery and runs regular training courses in drawing up contracts and terms and conditions. Acas experts can also visit your organisationto help you understand what needs to be done to ensure legislative compliance across a range of areas and help you develop practical solutions.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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