Gifts and hospitality

Updated on 24 June 2020

In certain circumstances staff will need to declare gifts and hospitality. Find out when this might be necessary.

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What follows is a summary of the main points of the policy, but the policy remains the definitive document. Line Managers have a duty to ensure that their staff understand their obligations under the policy.

The issue of reimbursement of expenses and hospitality is contained within the University's Staff Expenses, Travel and Working Overseas Policy

Why do we need a policy?

In the context of the Bribery Act 2010, it is possible that the giving and receiving of gifts and hospitality may put staff into situations which might fall within the terms of the Act, and therefore lay them open to accusations of bribery. The Bribery Act does not criminalise genuine hospitality, but government guidance indicates that the more lavish expenditure in relation to travel or accommodation is, the more likely it is to be regarded with suspicion. The acceptance by a member of staff of large gifts or of excessive hospitality, for instance, has both the potential to cause damage to the University's reputation and may additionally lead to criminal prosecution under the Act.

This is particularly the case if gifts and hospitality are received from or given to organisations which have or hope to have a contract with the University; and in the specific context of a University, care needs to be taken where individuals or organisations might be perceived to be seeking to gain academic advantage or influence. This could be in the context of assessing student work or in the interpretation or provision of favourable research results.

Having said this, however, the University accepts that there are circumstances, in the course of normal business, where the acceptance of gifts or hospitality is appropriate, or indeed where declining such gifts may cause offence or be detrimental to the University's interests.

The policy therefore attempts to set a series of principles to ensure that staff and students do not put themselves in a position where their integrity might be called into question or the University's reputation might be damaged.

External Guidance lays importance on five factors in determining the legality of gifts and hospitality:

  1. Evidence of a clear Gifts & Hospitality Policy
  2. Evidence that the amount being spent is within the confines of that policy
  3. Evidence that special permission has been sought where this is not the case
  4. Evidence or clear justification that the cost is proportionate with regard to the recipient
  5. Evidence that the expenditure has been recorded in accordance with the policy

What are the Policy's main principles?

  • That you must not offer or accept inducements or rewards for taking specific action or for showing favour or disfavour
  • That you must not accept gifts or hospitality if it might be perceived that your integrity or professionalism has been compromised, or that decisions may have been influenced
  • That you take especial care when accepting gifts and hospitality, and in particular from individuals or organisations who have or seek to have a contract with the University
  • That you have a duty to declare the receipt of large gifts or excessive hospitality, and in any event declare all gifts in circumstances which might lead to accusations of having been unduly influenced
  • That any gift or hospitality should be proportionate and appropriate to the circumstances in which it is offered or received

What gifts can I accept?

You may accept gifts of low intrinsic value, and this is taken to be below £30. Such gifts might include:

  • tokens of gratitude
  • promotional or corporate gifts bearing the logo or name of the giver
  • books from publishers where the books are relevant to your academic or professional interests of the staff concerned 

However, you must always consider whether acceptance of a gift might put you in breach of the principles laid out in the policy.

Other gifts should, in general, be politely declined, or special permission sought from your Dean, Director or School Manager as appropriate.

Gifts of money should never be accepted.

What gifts & hospitality must I declare?

You should declare:

  • Any gifts or hospitality where it is felt that there might be perceived to be a suspicion of dishonesty or a suggestion that decision-making may have been influenced, irrespective of value
  • All gifts above the low intrinsic value (£30). Acceptance of gifts above low intrinsic value should be discussed, ideally in advance, with the relevant Dean, Director or School Manager as appropriate
  • All hospitality which is considered to be disproportionate or inappropriate

What is proportionate or appropriate hospitality?

The guiding principle is that appropriate hospitality should be similar in scale to that which the University would be likely to offer in similar circumstances. A meal in central London for instance is likely to be more expensive than in Dundee. A high-level visitor from an overseas institution might expect a more sophisticated level of hospitality than a working lunch with a colleague from another institution.

How do I declare gifts & hospitality?

Each Dean and each support service Director maintains a register of gifts & hospitality for declarations from the staff within that School or Directorate.

If you need to make a declaration, then you should speak to your School Secretary or to the Director of your Service.

Declarations from other senior staff (Heads of College, Directors of Support Services, the Senior Management Team and Lay Members of Court) will be recorded in a register held by the Director of Policy, Governance & Legal Affairs.

Appendix 1 of the Policy sets out a table of how declarations should be made.

What information should be declared?

Each register should record the following:

  • Description and nature of the gift or hospitality
  • Whether the gift or hospitality was received or provided by a member of the University
  • Value or estimated value
  • Name of individual/company providing the gift or hospitality
  • Whether the gift was accepted or declined;Date of receipt
  • Name of individual/company who received the gift, and if a University employee or member of Court, whether personally or on behalf of the University
  • The circumstances in which the gift or hospitality was offered



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