The Bribery Act 2010, which became effective from July 2011, introduced new and more onerous requirements in respect of the ways in which businesses should conduct themselves.
Headlam’s Group plc (Headlam) employment handbooks/ terms and conditions clearly set out the way in which it expects employees to conduct themselves in their approach to work and with relationships with customers and suppliers. The Bribery Act reinforces the need for Headlam employees to continue to conduct themselves in accordance with these guidelines.
So that there is no misunderstanding, it is the stated policy of Headlam to conduct its business in an honest and ethical manner at all times. Headlam does not tolerate bribery and corruption and is committed to acting professionally, fairly and with integrity in all its business dealings and relationships wherever it operates and implementing and enforcing effective systems to counter bribery. Headlam will uphold all laws relevant to countering bribery and corruption in all the jurisdictions in which it operates.
The purpose of this policy is to set out Headlam’s responsibilities in observing and upholding its position on bribery and corruption; and to provide information and guidance on how to recognise and deal with bribery and corruption issues. It applies to all Headlam employees (whether permanent, fixed-term or temporary), consultants, contractors, casual workers and agency staff, agents, or any other person associated with the company. Third party means any individual or organisation Headlam comes into contact with during the course of business.
Headlam’s board of directors has overall responsibility for ensuring this policy complies with legal and ethical obligations and that Headlam operates in compliance with it. Management at all levels are responsible for ensuring those reporting to them are made aware of and understand this policy and, where appropriate, are given adequate training on it. The policy is to be communicated to employees in job roles assessed as low risk by reference to the Headlam website. For those employees in job roles assessed to be of higher risk, a copy of this policy will be made available with an explanation.
Headlam’s approach to bribery and corruption will be communicated by reference to the policy on its website to all suppliers, contractors and business partners at the outset of its business relationship with them and as appropriate thereafter. The Group Company Secretary has responsibility for implementing this policy and for monitoring its use and effectiveness and dealing with any queries on its interpretation. Monitoring will include considering its ongoing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness. Internal control systems and procedures will be subject to regular review to provide assurance that they are effective in countering bribery and corruption.
All employees are responsible for the success of this policy and should disclose any suspected danger or wrongdoing. They are invited to comment on this policy and suggest ways in which it might be improved. This policy does not form part of any employee's contract of employment and it may be amended at any time.
What is bribery?
A bribe is an inducement or reward offered, promised or provided in order to gain commercial, contractual, regulatory or personal advantage.
Perceived risks (not exhaustive) relate to inducements or rewards offered, received, promised or provided to:
- those responsible for buying to encourage purchases from given manufacturers or agents.
- those responsible for making decisions in relation to contracts for goods and services.
- those responsible for managing or awarding contracts subject to tender.
- any employee regarding the release of commercially sensitive information to a third party.
- the sales teams to secure the custom of a particular retailer or contractor.
Current controls and systems include:
- executive director and senior management team approval for credit facilities above pre-determined levels.
- pre-set guidance on the level of selling price discounts inclusive of compliance checks.
- regular commercial and financial review by senior executive management team members.
- executive director and senior management team approval in relation to budgetary control and approved suppliers.
- transparency and recorded disclosure of corporate hospitality, both given and received.
Gifts and hospitality
This policy does not prohibit normal and appropriate hospitality and the giving of gifts, however:
- it should not be given with the intention of influencing a third party to obtain or retain business or a business advantage, or to reward the provision or retention of business or a business advantage, or in explicit or implicit exchange for favours or benefits.
- local laws must be complied with.
- it is given in the name of the operating business.
- it does not include cash.
- it is appropriate in type and value in the circumstances, and
- it is openly done with the relevant line manager informed of the receipt or of the giving.
The intention behind the gift should always be considered, is it reasonable and justifiable, and lavish hospitality or gifts must be avoided, both the giving of and receiving of.
The company reserves the right to forbid an employee from attending any event that is considered excessive, inappropriate or may give rise to a conflict of interest.
Gifts or hospitality should not be offered to, or accepted from, government officials or representatives without the prior approval of the Group Chief Executive.
What is not acceptable
It is not acceptable to:
- give, promise or offer, payment, gift or hospitality with the expectation that an inappropriate commercial business advantage will be received, or to reward an inappropriate commercial business advantage already given.
- give, promise or offer, payment, gift or hospitality to a government official, agent or representative to "facilitate" or expedite a routine procedure.
- threaten or retaliate against an employee who has refused to commit a bribery offence or who has raised concerns under this policy.
- engage in any activity that might lead to a breach of this policy.
- make or accept, facilitation payments or inducements of any kind.
- make contributions to political parties.
Employees must ensure that they read, understand and comply with this policy and each is responsible for the prevention, detection and reporting of bribery and other forms of corruption and avoiding any activity that might lead to, or suggest, a breach of this policy.
Employees must notify their manager or the Group Company Secretary (or through the whistle-blowing procedure) as soon as possible if they believe or suspect that a conflict or breach with this policy has occurred, or may occur in the future and are encouraged to raise concerns about any issue or suspicion of malpractice at the earliest possible stage. It is important that employees inform their manager or the Group Company Secretary as soon as possible of offers of a bribe by a third party, if asked to make one, suspect that this may happen in the future, or believe that they are a victim of another form of unlawful activity. Any employee who breaches this policy will face disciplinary action, which could result in dismissal for gross misconduct. The contractual relationship with other workers may be terminated if they breach this policy.
In addition to current internal controls and systems regarding the accurate record keeping of transactions, the business should maintain a written record of any corporate hospitality together with a record of gifts accepted or offered with an estimated value of in excess of £250, with all hospitality or gifts received being declared to the relevant line manager. This record will be subject to managerial review.
Headlam is committed to ensuring no one suffers any detrimental treatment as a result of refusing to take part in bribery or corruption, or because of reporting in good faith their suspicion that an actual or potential bribery or other corruption offence has taken place, or may take place in the future. Detrimental treatment includes dismissal, disciplinary action, threats or other unfavourable treatment connected with raising a concern. If an employee believes that they have suffered any such treatment, they should inform their manager or the Group Company Secretary immediately.
Penalty for breach
The offences contained in the Bribery Act carry criminal penalties for individuals and organisations. For individuals, a maximum prison sentence of ten years and/or an unlimited fine can be imposed, whilst for companies, an unlimited fine can be imposed and Headlam businesses could be excluded from tendering for public contracts and face damage to their reputation.