Gifts and gratuities policies for employees are often reviewed and enforced by upper management to prevent any conflicts of interests between clients, potential clients and employees. Accepting or soliciting gifts from vendors can be viewed as a form of bribery and go against standard business ethics beliefs in the business world. Upon being hired, employees are informed of gift and gratuity policies, to ensure a clear understanding of how to conduct business with clients.
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Soliciting gifts, either by asking directly or making suggestions to clients or potential vendors, is prohibited and considered unprofessional. An employee should never request that a client give them a gift for his birthday, seasonal holidays or because they've landed a deal or provided the client with a solution.
Clients often want to send thanks to people at a company who help with business dealings. They send everything from movie tickets to gift baskets to employees to show their appreciation. In many instances, clients are not aware of the gifts and gratuities policies in place at companies. Because of this, it's up to employees to send back gifts that conflict with company gift policies or share the gift, like a basket of fruit or candy, with the entire office. Cash, paid vacations, liquor, electronics and other items of high value or deemed inappropriate by management should be sent back to the gift-giver with a thank-you note attached that explains company policy.
In an effort to ensure that employees are behaving ethically, some companies require that employees report all gifts to the human resources office when they are received. Human resources will either determine that the gift can be kept, sent back or give other direction as to how the employee should handle what was received.
Business dinner, lunch and breakfast meetings are often arranged and paid for by clients or vendors seeking inroads into a company. These meetings are acceptable by most companies, as long as business is discussed during, immediately before or after the meal is served.
Attending client-sponsored events like holiday parties or open houses as a reward for services provided goes against many business' gifts and gratuities policies. Similarly, visiting adult entertainment venues with clients is not common practice in businesses and is usually prohibited, regardless if the client or the employee is paying.
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