The following guidance relates to the offer and acceptance of gifts and benefits from third parties to staff in their capacity as an employee of the University (as opposed to gifts, donations and bequests that are accepted on behalf of the University). In some cases a supervisor may require that a gift to an individual is treated as a gift to the University rather than being retained by the staff member.
Gifts include the following:
- general gifts, e.g. flowers, wine, chocolates, gift baskets, small token items;
- corporate merchandise;
- promotional products, samples etc;
- hospitality, e.g. dinners, theatre tickets, sporting events;
- attendance at sponsored corporate events, including travel and accommodation; and
- other travel if paid for by a third party and is not of the type described in the paragraph below.
Not all travel is considered a gift for the purposes of requiring declaration and approval. Examples of travel that is not considered a gift include: when the travel is funded as part of a research grant or is paid for by another university/organisation for work falling within the staff member’s normal teaching, research or other employment duties; travel awarded as a prize for academic achievement; travel associated with presentation at a conference of an academic or other professional group where there is an independent conference organising committee and the presentation relates to the staff member’s University employment.
It is customary in some industries to give gifts or offer invitations to events, particularly during the festive season. These should not be accepted if doing so would create a perceived conflict of interest. When such gifts are accepted, either because no perception of conflict would arise or because it would be inappropriate to refuse, staff should consider sharing them amongst the office group where possible. Acceptance of such gifts should be disclosed via the registration form and approved if the value is $150 or more or, in the case of gifts of a lower value, where the gift recipient opts to do so in the interests of transparency.
- Staff must not solicit or accept a gift and/or benefit (regardless of its value) that could reasonably be perceived as having been provided with the intent of influencing the staff member in carrying out their duties to the University.
- In assessing the ethics of accepting gifts or benefits staff should consider the nature, value, frequency and the purpose of the gift and/or benefit that is being offered.
- There will be cases where judgement needs to be exercised but in any case where doubt exists as to whether there might be a perception of conflict of interest in accepting the gift/benefit it should not be accepted.
- Context is important. For example, accepting a gift from a student at the completion of their studies is much less likely to be perceived as a conflict than accepting a gift during the period that work is being assessed or a gift from a student’s family during an admissions process.
- It is acknowledged that, in some circumstances, it may cause offence to refuse a gift. However, if there is any concern that accepting the gift could lead to a perception of a conflict of interest, the staff member must disclose this acceptance, and seek approval if the estimated value or the gift is $150 or over.
- A gift of cash or the equivalent of cash (e.g. gift vouchers, cheques, travellers’ cheques, direct deposits to a bank account) must never be accepted.
- A gift must not be accepted during a procurement process by any staff member involved in determining or influencing the outcome of that process (this includes requests for quotations as well as tender processes).
- Staff must not accept gifts from or on behalf of individuals or organisations involved in an application for enrolment or employment.
- Whilst staff are able to accept gifts valued at less than $150 without supervisor approval, staff may still opt to disclose such gifts in the interests of transparency.