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Policies and Procedures

Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality

  • The RCH Board approved the RCH Gifts Benefits and Hospitality Guide for Staff in February 2019.

    1. Purpose 

    The purpose of this procedure is to

    • Provide guidance to all employees of The Royal Children's Hospital (RCH) on how to deal with gifts, benefits or acts of hospitality from a third party during the course of their employment
    • To ensure that all RCH employees are not compromised or publicly perceived to be biased by receipt of gifts benefits or hospitality
    • To ensure the responsible provision of gifts benefits and hospitality by RCH and its employees to the external third parties  

    This is to support behaviour consistent with the Codes of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees. All RCH employees are required under clause 1.2 of the Code to comply.  

    2. Scope:

      What information does this procedure cover?

      This procedure sets out how employees are to demonstrate integrity and impartiality in relation to the acceptance and the giving of gifts, benefits and hospitality. It also provides guidelines for disclosure and for accepting and rejecting offers of gifts, benefits and hospitality.

      Who does this procedure apply to?

      This procedure applies to all RCH board members, managers and employees, prospective employees, contractors, honorary employees, students, volunteers and affiliates.

      3. Underpinning principles and values

      3.1. Principles 

      Employment in the public service requires employees to carry out their duties with impartiality and integrity in order to maintain public trust.   

      In the course of employment, employees of RCH may be offered gifts, benefits or provided with hospitality in association with their work. It is important to recognise that accepting gifts, benefits or hospitality can give the impression that an employee may favour a particular person or organisation when making decisions or taking action, even when this was not the intention of the employee or offeror of the gift.   

      To ensure that the impartiality of RCH and its employees is not comprised, this procedure has been developed to provide guidance to employees on how to deal with an offer of a gift, benefit or hospitality from a third party during the course of their employment. 

      Term       Definition
      Business Associate      an external individual or entity which the organisation has, or plans to establish, some form of business relationship, or who may seek commercial or other advantage by offering gifts, benefits or hospitality. 
             
      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. 
             
      Conflict of Interest    
      • Actual 
        • there is a real conflict between an employee’s public duties and private interests.
      • Potential 
        • an employee has private interests that could conflict with their public duties. This refers to circumstances where it is foreseeable that a conflict may arise in future and steps should be taken now to mitigate that future risk. Perceived the public or a third party could form the view that an employee’s private interests could improperly influence their decisions or actions, now or in the future. 
             
      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). Fundraising by public sector organisations that is consistent with relevant legislation and any government policy is not prohibited under the minimum accountabilities. 
             
      Hospitality     is the friendly reception and entertainment of guests. Hospitality may range from light refreshments at a business meeting to expensive restaurant meals and sponsored travel and accommodation.
             
      Legitimate Business     gifts, benefits and hospitality accepted or provided for a business purpose, in that it furthers the conduct of official business or other legitimate goals of the organisation, public sector or State.
             
      Public Official     has the same meaning as under section 4 of the Public Administration Act 2004. This includes:
      • public sector employees;
      • statutory office holders; and
      • directors of public entities.
             
      Register     is a record, preferably electronic, of all declarable gifts, benefits and hospitality . It records the date an offer was made and by whom, the nature of the offer, its estimated value, the raising of any actual, potential or perceived conflicts of interest or reputational risks and how the offer was managed. For accepted offers, it details the business reason for acceptance and the officer approving the acceptance.
             
      Token Offer     is an offer of a gift, benefit or hospitality that is offered as a courtesy or is of inconsequential or trivial value to both the person making the offer and the individual. Whilst the primary determinant of a token offer is that it would not be reasonably perceived within or outside the organisation as influencing an individual or raising an actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest, it cannot be worth more than $50 (including cumulative offers from the same source over a 12 month period). 
             
      Non-token offer     is an offer of a gift, benefit or hospitality that is, or may be perceived to be by the recipient, the person making the offer or by the wider community, of more than inconsequential value. All offers worth more than $50 are non-token offers and must be recorded on a gift, benefit and hospitality register
             


      RCH Employees: 

      • must not solicit gifts, benefits or hospitality
      • must refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality that could be reasonably perceived as undermining the integrity and impartiality of the RCH
      • must refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality from people or organisations about whom they are likely to make decisions involving:
        • tender processes, including managing a contract once the tender process has ceased
        • procurement
        • enforcement
        • licensing, or
        • regulation
      • must refuse all offers of money or items easily converted to money, such as shares
      • must refuse all offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality where acceptance would create an obligation to the donor
      • must refuse bribes and report bribery attempts to the following two Executives, the Executive Director Strategy & Organisational Improvement and the CFO who may report this to the Victoria Police. Staff may also report bribes or bribery attempts under the Protected Disclosures procedure.
      • If unsure about how to respond to an offer of a gift, benefit or hospitality of more than nominal value, immediately seek advice from the following two Executives, the Executive Director Strategy & Organisational Improvement and the CFO.
      • Employees can accept modest hospitality, tokens, mementos and small gifts of appreciation or benefits such as invitations to official functions or events of up to nominal value of AUD $50.00, provided:
        • they are related to the business of the RCH, and
        • they do not involve a conflict of interest, and
        • they do not create a perception that the employee will be unduly influenced by accepting the gift, benefit or hospitality.

      Employees mustreport any gifts, benefits or hospitality which give rise to a potential or real conflict of interest, or which have a value of more than $50.

      When giving gifts and hospitality, employees need to ensure that resources are used prudently and in accordance with this procedure, that there is a clear legitimate business purpose and a clear benefit to the RCH, and that it does not compromise the real or perceived integrity of recipients.   

      Modest hospitality

      Tea or coffee offered in the course of a business meeting at the organisation's premises may be accepted.  These will have been offered as a courtesy and to make guests feel welcome.  Similarly, light refreshments such as finger food at an conference and training. or sandwiches at a conference or training may be accepted.

      Modest hospitality offered as part of official business is not reportable.

      The hospitality can be accepted as long as it does not present a perceived conflict of interest.

      In all cases, the hospitality must be proportionate to the occasion. If the hospitality offered is lavish or above the nominal value then it becomes a reportable item. Examples may include the offer of free accommodation and travel or the upgrading of travel or accommodation arrangements.   

      Consequences of breaching this procedure

      A breach of this procedure may constitute a breach of the RCH Code of Conduct, and misconduct, or serious misconduct and may be subject to action, including disciplinary action in accord with the RCH Performance Management & Disciplinary procedure.

      4. Minimum requirements

      Accepting gifts, benefits and hospitality

       All employees should

      • not accept any gift or benefit for themselves or others
      • refuse all gifts, benefits and hospitality that
        • are money., items used in a similar way to money, or items easily converted to money
        • gives rise to actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest
        • may adversely affect their standing as employee of public service or bring RCH or public entity/ sector into disrepute
        • are non token gifts (value >$50.00) without legitimate business benefit
      • refuse bribes or inducements and report inducements or bribery attempts to their Executive Director or the Chief Executive immediately
      • Declare any gifts, benefits or hospitality that is offered that exceeds the nominal value ($50.00) and submit it to the Executive Director for authorisation to accept it. All offers exceeding the nominal value must be recorded on the RCH Gift Register, regardless of being accepted or declined. This includes all gifts, benefits and hospitality events exceeding the nominal value (>$50.00).
      • Declaration ( via the RCH Form) must be done within 14 working days of the offer or as soon as possible / realised in cases when it is not practically feasible.   

      The RCH Gift, Benefits or Hospitality declaration form (available here ) aims to capture the following information:

      • recipient's name and role
      • date, time and place of offer
      • donor's name and organisation
      • reason gift was offered
      • description and estimated value
      • first time offer or previous offers within last 12 months (details)
      • location of the gift
      • decision taken in respect of the gift, benefit or hospitality
      • Signature of recipient and authorised delegate.   

      5. Principles for accepting gifts and hospitality

      There are limited circumstances in which a gift, benefit or hospitality of above the nominal value (>$50.00) may be accepted, and only if it complies with all of the following principles:

      It does not influence, or have the potential to influence, an employee in such a way as to compromise or appear to compromise integrity and impartiality or to create a conflict of interest or reasonable perception of conflict of interest.

      It is normal in the donor's or recipient's culture and rejection of or not offering the gift or benefit could cause offence. Advice on conforming to international or cultural practice may be obtained through Executive Director of Communications.

      It is received in the course of the employee's duty and relates to the work of the employee or has a benefit to the RCH and RCH community.

      An employee is required to exercise particular care in accepting gifts, benefits or hospitality if:

      • the person, company or organisation is in a contractual relationship with the RCH, or
      • they have been offered gifts or benefits of any kind from the same donor more than once in the previous year.

      the employee can keep the gifts, benefits and hospitality events of <$50.00 on the approval of the Director / Manager. In this case, the declaration need not be recorded on the register.

      The employee must compete the declaration form for any subsequent gift/s, even if <$50.00, from the same donor or organisation within the 12 month period.   

      6. Principles for declining (or non-acceptance)

      Employees must decline offers of gifts, benefits or hospitality that fall outside the principles for accepting gifts, benefits or hospitality, by courteously explaining that acceptance would be against RCH policy.

      The gift, benefit or hospitality must not be accepted if any of the following situations apply:

      • the donor or reasonable observer would perceive that acceptance would create an obligation to the donor, particularly if the value of the gift or benefit is disproportionate to the situation in which it is offered
      • the gift, benefit or hospitality is likely to influence an employee in the course of their duties or where acceptance could cause a conflict of interest
      • the employee has had a role in a procurement exercise with the donor person as a bidder or any party associated with the bidder, even if direct involvement has ceased
      • the employee has had a role in awarding grants, regulating or giving licenses to a donor person or organisation
      • the organisation's primary purpose is to lobby Hospitals, Ministers, Members of Parliament or agencies
      • the employee believes they are being offered a bribe or inducement
      • it is not offered openly
      • it is an offer of money or anything readily convertible to money, such as shares
      • it is above the nominal value and would create a conflict of reasonable perception of interest.

      The question of whether there is a conflict of interest should be examined in terms of the public perception. To avoid damage to the RCH's or employee's reputation the gift, benefit or hospitality should be rejected if acceptance could be viewed unfavourably.

      In certain circumstances it may be difficult to either return or refuse a gift or benefit, or the giver may ignore the refusal. It may also cause embarrassment to refuse a gift or benefit in circumstances where it may have been offered in a public way, for instance, to a guest speaker at a conference. If the gift has a nominal value > $50.00, it must be declared and recorded in the Gifts, benefits and hospitality register within 14 days of the offer.

      Gifts or benefits must never be accepted in connection with a tender process or a decision over which an employee or the RCH could be perceived to have influence. Please refer to the Procurement and Business Services' contract management toolkit.   

      The Public Sector Standards Commission has developed a Gift Test to remind employees of definitions to be considered in determining whether to accept an offer of a gift, benefit or hospitality.  The Gift Test reminds us to think about:

      Giver     who is providing the gift, benefit or hospitality and what is their relationship with me? 
      Influence     are they seeking to influence my decisions or actions?
      Favour     are they seeking a favour in return for the gift, benefit or hospitality?
      Trust     would accepting the gift, benefit, or hospitality diminish public trust?


      Where there is no clear public benefit to attending private functions in an official capacity the invitation should be declined. This is especially the case when attendance at the function could be perceived as an endorsement of the company or product.     

      Employees may keep token gifts or benefits with value of <$50.00 subject to the verbal approval of their manager. However, gifts of <$50.00 that could be seen as creating a conflict of interest perception must be declared and recorded on the gifts register, with the manager determining appropriate action.

      Gifts, benefits or hospitality events of value >$50.00 up to $500

      In limited circumstances, employees may be able to keep a gift worth up to $500.

      Employees may be able to keep a gift worth >$50, but less than $500 subject to the documented approval of the Executive Director.

      All gifts and benefits >$500.00

      Gifts worth $500 or more must be surrendered to the RCH in all circumstances in the first instance. In special circumstances the employees may able to keep a gift more than $500 with the RCH Chief Executive Officer's written approval, provided that no other public entity (such as Museums Victoria) has expressed interest in retaining the gift and it is not of historic or cultural significance.

      Gifts worth $500 or more may be donated to The Royal Children's Hospital Foundation.   

      Valuation of gifts or benefits

      The value of a gift or benefit is assessed according to the wholesale price in the country of origin.

      Any disputes as to the value of a gift must be resolved in consultant with the employees respective Executive Director.   

      Ceremonial or other significant gifts

      International delegations may offer ceremonial gifts on behalf of their country or organisation to an employee. These gifts are not to be kept by the employee, must be recorded on the gift register and become the property of RCH.

      If the gift is culturally significant, RCH may offer it to an appropriate public institution such as Melbourne Museum, National Gallery of Victoria or   similar other organisations. RCH may decide to donate other significant gifts, or proceeds from their sale, to charity.   

      Representing RCH in any capacity

      When RCH employees attend an event or conference (in any capacity – as a speaker, participant guest or on the judging panel) or apply for any award in recognition of their public sector work, they represent RCH. Any gifts, benefits or hospitality events (including the expenses for travel, dining and accommodation) in such situations belong to RCH and must be declared on the gift register, if they exceed the nominal value (>$50.00). This includes any door prizes, speaker fees and financial grants.

      Any revenues from fees or grants (>nominal value of $50.00) must be recorded on the gift register.     

      7. Roles and responsibilities

      Employees

      • Exercise particular care in accepting gifts or benefits and only accept if it complies with all the stated principles in this procedure for accepting gifts, benefits or hospitality.
      • Advise your manager of the acceptance of token gifts or benefits with a nominal value less than $50.00.
      • Report to your manager or supervisor immediately if you receive an offer of a gift, benefit or hospitality of >$50.00 nominal value, and any gifts <$50.00 that could be seen as creating a conflict of interest perception.
      • Complete a gift, benefit & hospitality declaration form, if >$50.00 nominal value, within 14 days of the offer.
      • Transfer the gift (with a nominal value greater than $500) to become the property of the RCH or where it may be difficult to refuse a gift, or the giver may ignore the refusal.
      • Report to your manager or supervisor and the respective Executives, immediately you receive offers of gifts or benefits where you believe it is an attempt to induce favoured treatment (bribe or inducement).
      • Ensure, when receiving gifts, benefits and hospitality, that they are accepted in accordance with this procedure.
      • Follow the requirements and processes of gifts, benefits and hospitality procedure.   

      Managers / Directors / Executive Directors

      • Model appropriate behaviours.
      • Establish employee awareness and compliance with gifts, benefits and hospitality procedure.
      • Make employees aware of the requirement to complete within 14 days the Gift, benefit and hospitality declaration and the RCHs Gifts, benefits and hospitality register for gifts, benefits and hospitality of >$50.00 nominal value, and for any gifts <$50.00 that could create a conflict of interest perception.
      • Support employees to determine whether a gift, benefit or hospitality may be accepted and ensure matters are addressed in a timely manner.
      • Encourage an environment where employees can raise their concerns, know their action will be taken seriously and there are safe and effective mechanisms for reporting ethical dilemmas.
      • Seek valuations on any gifts or benefits received to support the process under the procedure.
      • Brief your relevant Executive Director and report to the following two Executives, the Executive Director Strategy & Organisational Improvement and the Executive Director Corporate Services & CFO any person or organisation that may have offered a bribe or inducement to a RCH employee.
      • Ensure, when approving gifts and hospitality, that resources are used prudently and in accordance with this procedure.
      • Follow the requirements and processes of the hospitality and conferences expenses guidelines.     

      8. Reporting

      The Gift Register is to be submitted to the Audit Committee annually for review and monitored by the Executive Committee.   

      Support and advice

      For further information and advice contact your respective Executive Director.

      Reviewing and reporting of the register

      The RCH Conflict of Interest Committee reviews the register regularly

      A summary reported detailing Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality received in the financial year prior will be provided to the August meeting each year of the the RCH Audit & Corporate Risk Management committee. The report includes repetitive trends or patterns, administration risk analysis, quality control and corrective or preventative actions and risk mitigation strategies.

      The RCH gifts register must be published on the RCH website and regularly updated to cover the current and previous financial year, without personal names but with position titles only.  

      All gifts, benefits and hospitality events are reported annually to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Humans Services by the Chief Executive.     

      9. Related policies

      10. Legislation, standards and industrial agreements

      Legislation

      • Section 20(1); 66(5) and 66(6), Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic)
      • Section 175, Crimes Act 1958
      • Financial Management Act 1994
      • Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic) - Public sector values and employment principles GBH Declaration Form_Nov 2019

      The procedure is consistent with the Charter of Human Rights & Responsibilities Act 2006 (Vic).

      Standards

      • Public Sector Standards Commissioner Gifts, Benefits and Hospitality Policy Framework
      • Code of Conduct for Victorian Public Sector Employees 2007
      • Public Sector Standards Commissioner Conflict of Interest Policy Framework
      • Public Sector Standards Commissioner Ethics Framework

      Industrial Agreements

      • Victoria Public Service Workplace Determination 2012.

      11. Appendices / Resources

      RCH Gifts Benefits or Hospitality Declaration Form 

      12. Compliance with Circular 2018-01 | Gifts, benefits and hospitality (click here to download a copy)

      This circular details compliance reporting requirements for entities within the health portfolio including RCH specifically:

      • Standards of Conduct: Mandatory and best practice principle in managing fraud and corruption.

      RCH Gifts Benefits and Hospitality Report - 2014-2017

      RCH Gifts Benefits or Hospitality Register - 2017-18