Gifts benefits and hospitality policy

To provide guidance to all VicRoads employees, agency employees and contractors working for VicRoads for their decisions to decline offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality and when to provide hospitality.

Select any options below for more information.

1. Glossary

Gifts are free or discounted items, and any item that would generally be seen by the public as a gift. These include items of high value (e.g. artwork, jewellery or expensive pens), low value (e.g. small bunch of flowers) and consumables (e.g. chocolates).

Benefits include preferential treatment, privileged access, favours or other advantage offered to an individual. They may include invitations to sporting, cultural or social events, access to discounts and loyalty programs, and promises of a new job. The value of benefits may be difficult to define in dollars, but as they are valued by the individual, they may be used to influence the individual’s behaviour.

Hospitality is the friendly reception and treatment of guests. Hospitality may range from light refreshments at a business meeting to expensive restaurant meals and sponsored travel and accommodation.

Token Gifts are those offered in business situations by organisations to representatives of an agency. Token gifts are often mass produced, not generally given as personal gifts, have no significant or lasting value, examples include caps, stationery, coffee mugs, etc.

2. Who does this policy apply to?

This policy applies to all VicRoads employees, agency employees and contractors (“VicRoads employees”) working for VicRoads, and members of their immediate family where there can be a link between them and the employee’s VicRoads duties. This includes where the gift, benefit or hospitality is offered to or by an individual, group or VicRoads as a corporate entity.

This policy has been developed in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Minimum accountabilities for managing gifts, benefits and hospitality issues by the Victorian Public Sector Commission.

3. What are the minimum requirements regarding others offering gifts, benefits or hospitality?

As public officials, we have a duty to conduct ourselves in accordance with the highest standards of integrity, impartiality and accountability. The way we respond to offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality is critical to earning and sustaining the trust of those we serve.

All VicRoads employees are required to refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality (other than the limited exceptions outlined below.

VicRoads employees:
  1. Do not, for themselves or others, seek or solicit gifts, benefits or hospitality.

  2. Refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality that:

    • are money, items used in a similar way to money, or items easily converted to money;

    • give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest;

    • may adversely affect their standing as a public official or which may bring VicRoads into disrepute; or

    • are non-token offers without a legitimate business benefit.

  3. Declare all offers of gifts, benefits, and hospitality (even when declined)

  4. Refuse bribes or inducements and report inducements and bribery attempts to the Manager Business Integrity Group

Are there any exceptions to this rule?
In some cases it may be appropriate to accept a small token such as promotional material that is freely available to everyone (such as a pen) or the provision of a simple meal when presenting at a conference or a bottle of wine or a bunch of flowers for a speaking engagement. This could appropriately be donated back or given to a staff member to recognise an achievement. It is also appropriate to accept refreshment or a light lunch as part of a meeting process, provided this is not the primary reason for the meeting.

Where a gift is given as a gesture of goodwill to the State by a foreign delegation, it must be accepted so as not to offend the gift giver or cause embarrassment to the organisation. Ceremonial gifts become the property of VicRoads and are recorded on the asset register.

4. When can VicRoads provide gifts, benefits and hospitality?

As public officials, we have a duty to conduct ourselves in accordance with the highest standards of integrity, impartiality and accountability. The way we respond to offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality is critical to earning and sustaining the trust of those we serve. Similarly, we need to be confident that we are using public resources responsibly when we provide gifts or hospitality in the course of our work.

Gifts, benefits and hospitality may be provided to welcome guests, facilitate the development of business relationships, further VicRoads business outcomes and to celebrate achievements. When deciding whether to provide gifts, benefits or hospitality, or what type to provide, you must ensure that:
  • it is provided for a business reason;

  • any costs are proportionate to the benefits obtained for the State or VicRoads; and,

  • it would not give rise to an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest.
VicRoads employees:
  1. Ensure that any gift, benefit and hospitality is provided for a business purpose in that it furthers the conduct of official business or other legitimate organisational goals or promotes and supports government policy objectives and priorities.

  2. Ensure that any costs are proportionate to the benefits obtained for the State, and would be considered reasonable in terms of community expectations.

  3. Ensure that when hospitality is provided, individuals demonstrate professionalism in their conduct, and uphold their obligation to extend a duty of care to other participants.
Where VicRoads is considering providing hospitality, the HOST test is a good reminder of what to think about:

H  Hospitality
To whom is hospitality being provided?
Will recipients be external business partners, or employees of the host organisation?
O  Objectives For what purpose will hospitality be provided?
Is the hospitality being provided to further the conduct of official business? Will it promote and support government policy objectives and priorities? Will it contribute to staff wellbeing and workplace satisfaction?
S  Spend Will public funds be spent?
What type of hospitality will be provided? Will it be modest or expensive, and will alcohol be provided? Will the costs incurred be proportionate to and less than any benefits obtained?
T  Trust Will public trust be enhanced or diminished?
Could you publicly explain the rationale for the hospitality? Will the event be conducted in a manner which upholds the reputation of the public sector? Have records in relation to hospitality been kept in accordance with reporting and recording procedures?

Containing costs
Individuals should contain costs involved in the provision of gifts, benefits and hospitality wherever possible. The following questions may be useful to assist individuals to decide the type of gift, benefit or hospitality to provide:
  • Will the cost of providing the gift, benefit or hospitality be proportionate to the potential benefits?

  • Is an external venue necessary or does VicRoads have the facilities to host the event?

  • Is the proposed catering or hospitality proportionate to the number of attendees?

  • Does the size of the event and number of attendees align with intended outcomes?

  • Will providing the gift, benefit or hospitality be viewed as excessive?

  • Can the event be held at another time of day to minimise expectations of a need for hospitality?
Catered events and meetings
If an event or meeting is significant in duration, and extends over usual meal times, it is generally considered a basic courtesy to provide token hospitality such as tea, coffee or a light meal. Where possible, a sufficient break in proceedings should be encouraged to enable participants to seek their own refreshments if available within the vicinity. Where possible, internal meetings attended by employees should not be scheduled to conflict with meal times.

Celebrations of events such as birthdays, marriages or the birth of a child should not be funded by VicRoads. The VicRoads Guide to Reward and Recognition provides more information about providing gifts, benefits or hospitality for employees.

Please refer to the VicRoads Financial Management Policy 4.12 Hospitality Expenditure for appropriate approvals and more information on the circumstances in which it is appropriate for hospitality to be provided for employees.

Please refer to the VicRoads Financial Management Policy 4.18 Gifts to Employees and Financial Management Policy 4.06 Gift Cards for more information on the circumstances in which it is appropriate for a gift to be given to an employee.

5. What should I do if I am offered a gift, benefit or hospitality?

All VicRoads employees are required to (1) politely decline and (2) declare all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality. You can do this by:
  1. Politely verbally declining the offer at the time it is made;
  2. If the gift, benefit or hospitality has already been received, return it to the giver with an accompanying written letter that references this policy (see Related Links for sample letters).
VicRoads employees must declare all offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality by completing the Gifts benefits and Hosplitality Declaration Form. This information will be recorded on the VicRoads Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Register, which VicRoads will periodically publish on the company website.

VicRoads Risk & Audit Governance Committee will receive a report at least annually on the administration and quality control of the Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy and Register. The report will include analysis of VicRoads gifts, benefits and hospitality risks (including multiple offers from the same source and offers from business associates), risk mitigation measures and any proposed improvements.

6. What if I’m unclear?

A conflict of interest resulting from the acceptance of a gift, benefit or hospitality is not always clear to those who have them. Individuals, who are unsure about the acceptance of a gift, benefit or hospitality or the application of this policy, should ask their manager or a member of the Workplace Relations team for advice.

7. What do I do if I’m offered a bribe?

If you believe you have been offered a bribe or inducement, the offer must be reported to the Manager Business Integrity Group.

8. What should I do if I suspect someone may be breaching this policy?

Individuals who consider that gifts, benefits and hospitality within VicRoads may not have  been declared or is not being appropriately managed should speak up and notify their manager or Workplace Relations.

A breach of this policy may constitute a breach of the Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector employees or misconduct under VicRoads EA8 and may result in disciplinary action,  including dismissal. Actions inconsistent with this policy may constitute:
  • Misconduct under the Public Administration Act 2004;A breach of the secret commission’s provisions (sections 175-179) of the Crimes Act 1958;
  • Breaches of the binding Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees, such as sections of the Code covering conflict of interest (section 3.7), public trust (section 3.9) and gifts and benefits (section 4.2); and
  • Individuals making improper use of their position.

9. Forms and Attachments

Reference Material
Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees
VicRoads Conflict of Interest Policy
VicRoads Policy on Hospitality Expenditure
Financial Management Policy 4.12 Hospitality Expenditure
Financial Management Policy 4.18 Gifts to Employees
Financial Management Policy 4.06 Gift Cards

 

VicRoads- Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Register

VicRoads- Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Register- 2016-2017 [PDF 91Kb]

VicRoads- Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Register- 2017-2018 [PDF 125Kb]

 

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