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Policy Reportable Gifts and Benefits Procedure

Reportable Gifts and Benefits Procedure


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Intent

This procedure provides guidance on the considerations required in the giving and receiving of gifts and benefits by Officers of the University in the course of their official duties to ensure they are ethically appropriate, and are properly managed and disclosed. The procedure outlines the internal control requirements which govern gift and benefit acceptance and giving process, roles and responsibilities, and record keeping and reporting requirements to ensure University Officers do not place themselves or the University in a potential, perceived or actual Conflict of Interests.

This Procedure gives effect to the principles in the Staff Code of Conduct or the Code of Conduct – University Council such as integrity, impartiality, accountability and transparency.

Any breaches of the procedure will be dealt with in line with the actions as set out in the University’s Codes of Conduct.

Scope

The procedure applies to Officers of the University when giving or receiving a reportable gift or benefit in the course of their duties at JCU. A University Officer is also referred to as a ‘recipient’ for the purposes of this procedure. This procedure should be read in conjunction with relevant sections of the Financial Management Practice Manual (FMPM), including the Financial Sub-delegations Register and the Conflict of Interest Policy for staff, and Conflict of Interests Policy – Council and its Committees.

This procedure does not apply to:

  • gifts given or received under the staff Awards for Excellence Policy;
  • gifts purchased by monies collected from colleagues;
  • donations to the University (rather than an individual officer) and donations of cash, plant or equipment (see FMPM 940),
  • corporate or JCU merchandise gifts to individuals or organisations on behalf of the University as a token of appreciation or a gesture of courtesy such as gifts for speakers at events, gifts presented to judges of competitions or events, gifts presented to dignitaries or delegations visiting the University or gifts presented by University Officers when visiting overseas on official University business. Purchases of corporate gifts are to be sourced from the Marketing Directorate;
  • sponsorship arrangements with external parties or internal sponsorship and exemption of student fees; and
  • approvals for expenditure for hospitality/entertainment under FMPM 750 – Hospitality/Entertainment, FMPM 752 Authorised Limits - Hospitality/Entertainment.

Definitions

Except as otherwise specified in this procedure the meaning of terms used are as per the Policy Glossary.

Affiliate

Is a person (other than a Staff member who is affiliated with JCU by letter of appointment or invitation to work, or research at the University for a particular activity and typically for a prescribed timeframe and who is bound to comply with the University’s policies during that period (for example, visiting scholars and adjunct appointees).

Conflict of Interests

A conflict of interest involves a conflict between the public duty and private interests of a public official, in which the public official has private interests which could improperly influence the performance of their official duties and responsibilities.

A conflict of interest arises when an individual’s personal interests, or those of a person with whom they have a close personal relationship, conflict with their primary obligation to act in the interests of the University. A conflict of interest may be actual, perceived or potential. It can be pecuniary (involving financial gain or loss), or non-pecuniary (based on enmity or amity) and can arise from avoiding personal losses as well as gaining personal advantage, financial or otherwise.

Conflict of interests includes conflict of commitment.

Donation

Involves giving as an act of generosity to or by the University where there is no reciprocal benefit to the donor or University and does not involve a token of appreciation. Donations to the University (rather than an individual Officer) and Donations of cash, plant or equipment by University Officers is determined in FMPM 940 and in the Financial Sub-delegations Register.

FMPM

Financial Management Practice Manual

Gifts and Benefits

Are any item of value, goods, property, services, money, travel, hospitality, entertainment or other  token of appreciation received by an Officer of the University, as a consequence of their employment or appointment, other than those received from the University as part of their employment terms. A gift which is something of lasting value would be ‘retained’ whereas a gift which comprises hospitality or entertainment would be ‘consumed’ or ‘accepted’.

Gifts and benefits may be reportable or non-reportable.

Gifts received by an Officer while overseas on University business and gifts received by staff from international visitors that are not retained and displayed on University premises are covered by this Procedure.

Reportable gift or benefit

Includes:

  • any   item listed above with a value of more than $150 (GST inclusive), as determined by the Queensland Public Service Commission; or
  • a series of such gifts received from a single donor or made to a single recipient within a financial year (January 1 to December 31), where the total value of the gifts is more than $150 (GST inclusive).

University Officer

A member of the University’s staff (including casual and fixed term staff and affiliates), or an officeholder at the University including members of Council or its Committees (including a Council-appointed co-opted additional member).

Value

The fair market value of a gift or benefit on the day it was given or received in Australian dollars including GST or the equivalent in any foreign currency.

Procedure

1. Roles and Responsibilities

1.1  University Officers may be offered gifts by external parties or colleagues in the course of, or incidental to, their employment as a token of appreciation or as a gesture of courtesy. University Officers must only accept gifts where it is appropriate to do so. A gift or benefit should not be accepted if the purpose is to obtain favours from the recipient or intended to place them under some obligation.

1.2  University Officers are responsible for understanding and complying with this procedure and ensuring disclosure (where applicable) or polite rejection of gifts and benefits as outlined in this procedure. Heads of Organisational Units are responsible for ensuring adequate systems and processes are in place including:

  • ensuring all University Officers in their organisational unit only accept  or offer gifts in accordance with this procedure; and
  • advising University Officers who have queries about accepting gifts where clarification is needed or there is uncertainty.

1.3  University Officers performing sensitive roles (e.g. internal audit, procurement, tender evaluation, student admissions, scholarship panels, recruitment panels) are normally expected to decline any offer of gifts.

1.4  The University Secretary is responsible for reviewing and registering the reported gifts and benefits, and providing advice to the University Officers.

1.5  The Chief of Staff for reporting to the Vice Chancellor on the Register and any breaches of the procedure, and if appropriate, to the Audit, Risk and Compliance Committee of the University Council as a part of the regular reporting on risk and compliance management.

2.  Receiving Gifts

2.1  An Officer of the University Officer must not:

2.1.1 solicit any gift or benefit from any external party in connection with their official functions or duties;

2.1.2 accept any gift or benefit, if the gift or benefit could be perceived to create or actually creates a conflict of interests in the staff member's performance of their official functions or duties;

2.1.3 accept any gift of money or benefit by way of loan, or similar funding, for any functions or duties performed or not performed;

2.1.4 accept a gift of influence or any monetary gift such as cash, cheques, vouchers, gift cards, direct deposits and the like.

2.2  In determining whether it is appropriate to accept a gift consideration needs to be given to:

2.2.1 why the gift was made and the public perception of acceptance e.g. to influence, for gratitude, as a token gesture, cultural or ceremonial requirement;

2.2.2 whether the gift or benefit has been received in a public forum i.e. consider the openness and transparency of the gift; and

2.2.3 the value of the gift or benefit, the frequency of gift giving as well as the relationship between the donor and the recipient.

2.3  The following are examples of benefits that may be offered to University Officers:

  • entertainment and hospitality;
  • tickets to the theatre, cultural events, sporting and other events;
  • use of facilities such as holiday homes and discounted travel;
  • corporate offers of transportation, accommodation, tickets, meals, functions; and
  • arranged conference registration, transportation, and accommodation

2.4  The following are examples of gifts that may be offered to University Officers:

  • alcohol, flowers, perishable food items, clothes and other products;
  • merchandise such as clothing, pens, pencils, caps, notepads, cups etc;
  • items won in competitions held at conferences;
  • gifts given by a student to an Officer; and
  • cash contributions towards an Officer’s travel and/or entertainment for non-University business.

2.5  Gifts of cultural or historical significance will remain the property of the University regardless of their monetary value, will be used for public benefit in an appropriate manner and should be either given to the Library or put on display in the organisational unit.

2.6  An unsolicited gift offered to a University Officer and rejected at the time of offer is not required to be disclosed and dealt with in accordance with this procedure unless it is a bribe (see Fraud and Corruption Procedure).

2.7  Staff should discuss these matters with their supervisor prior to accepting a reportable gift or benefit to determine whether a conflict of interests exists or may be perceived to exist and ensure that appropriate approval (including any leave approval required in accepting a gift e.g. tickets to a sporting event) is obtained, preferably prior, to a decision about whether to accept a gift.

2.8  With the exception of the circumstances described above in section 2.2, a University Officer may accept a gift in accordance with the following:

2.8.1 Non-reportable gifts or benefits (less than $150) may be accepted and retained by a University Officer without prior approval by the Head of organisational unit.

2.8.2 Reportable gifts or benefits (above $150) accepted by a University Officer remain the property of the University unless the recipient receives approval to retain the gift, noting there may be retrospective approval for some benefits as it may be impractical to seek approval beforehand. The reportable gift declaration (see appendix 1) is to be submitted to the Head of the organisational unit, who is to notify the Secretariat within fourteen days of the gift being received so that it can be recorded in the Reportable Gifts Register.

2.8.3 In the case of a reportable gift or benefit received during overseas travel, a declaration must be submitted to the Head of the organisational unit and thence the Secretariat for entry in the Reportable Gifts Register within fourteen days of the recipient's return to the University.

2.8.4 When a University Officer receives a number of gifts or benefits from the same donor over one financial year, with an aggregate value in excess of $150, then each individual gift or benefit becomes reportable and must be included in the Reportable Gifts Register.

2.8.5 Where a University Officer is uncertain whether a particular gift exceeds a valuation threshold they should discuss it with their Head of organisational unit and/or the details should be forwarded to the Secretariat for review and advice.

2.9  Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) applies to all gifts and/or hospitality received that exceed the relevant FBT threshold (currently $300). The applicable FBT liability amount will normally be borne by the individual University Officer. However, the relevant Head of the organisational unit, has discretion to approve the FBT being borne by the University. FBT is payable regardless of the fact that the gift was provided by a third party. It is the responsibility of the University Officer concerned to provide details of the gift and/or hospitality to the Secretariat. Refer to FMPM 730: Policy - Taxation and FMPM 731: Procedure - Fringe Benefits Tax.

3. Giving Gifts and Benefits

3.1  The University recognises that there are circumstances where a University Officer, on behalf of the University, may wish to give a gift or benefit to external parties or other University Officers including official hospitality, corporate gifts and gifts in accordance with social or cultural practices, for example farewell, births or bereavement gifts, or gifts when visiting an institution overseas.

3.2  The giving of gifts or benefits should align with the University’s strategic objectives, not place the University Officer or the University in a potential, perceived or actual conflict of interests, and be approved in advance by the Head of organisational unit.

3.3   A gift or benefit that is valued at less than $150 is ‘non-reportable’ and may be given by a University Officer without prior approval by the Head of organisational unit.

3.4  Where a University Officer gives a series of gifts or benefits to the same recipient in a financial year, with the cumulative total value equal to or greater than reportable gift threshold of $150, the University Officer must treat the series of gifts or benefits as being ‘reportable’.

3.5  Reportable gifts or benefits must not be bestowed without prior approval. The responsibility for approving the bestowal of a reportable gift or benefit is shown below.  Note that if the proposed recipient is one of the authorised officers, then approval must be sought from the authorised officer’s supervisor.

3.6  Financial limits on bestowing a reportable gift or benefit are contained in the University Delegation Schedule and Financial Sub-delegation Register.

3.7  The giving of a reportable gift or benefit is to be reported by the University Officer so authorised to offer the gift or benefit to the Secretariat within fourteen days of the gift being made so that it can be recorded in the Reportable Gifts Register.

4. Reportable Gifts Register

4.1  The Secretariat will maintain a Reportable Gifts Register recording gifts bestowed or received by, an Officer of the University.

4.2  The Reportable Gifts Register will list:

a) a description and assessed value of the gift or benefit in Australian dollars;

b) the method of assessing the value of the gift or benefit;

c) the date and authority for the gift or benefit;

d) the identity of the person or party receiving or offering the gift or benefit;

e) the reason for accepting or giving the gift;

f) any relevant file references;

g) in the case of reportable gifts given or benefits offered, the approval for the expenditure; and

h) in the case of reportable gifts or benefits received, the present custodian and location of the gift or the application of the proceeds.

5. Failure to Declare a Reportable Gift or Benefit

5.1  University Officers have an obligation to declare reportable gifts and benefits in accordance with this procedure. Deliberate attempts to undervalue a gift to avoid the requirements under this procedure or deliberately failing to declare a gift or benefit may lead to an assessment of potential fraudulent behaviour.

5.2  Failing to comply with the provisions of this procedure may constitute breach of employment conditions or a breach of a conduct obligation and may result in disciplinary actions.

5.3  Breaches of this procedure may also result in referral to, and action being taken by, an external statutory authority and/or agency including the Crime and Corruption Commission and/or Police.

6. Privacy and Confidentiality

6.1  Information arising from the declaration of reportable gifts will be managed in accordance with the Information Privacy Policy.

6.2  Information held may be used for University purposes including audit, reporting, compliance monitoring and other purposes required by government or legislation.

7. Public Interest Disclosures

7.1 If an Officer of the University has knowledge that another Officer of the University may have received or given a gift or benefit that has not been declared, they should discuss the situation with the University Secretary or Chief of Staff or consider taking action under the Public Interest Disclosure Procedure.

Appendices

Appendix 1 – Reportable Gifts Register Entry Form

Appendix 2 – Accepting Gifts Decision Flowchart

Related policy instruments

Staff Code of Conduct

Code of Conduct - University Council and Explanatory Statement

Conflict of Interests – University Council and its Committees

Conflict of Interest Policy

Public Interest Disclosure Procedure

Fraud and Corruption Procedure

FMPM Policy 750 – Hospitality/Entertainment

FMPM 752 Authorised Limits - Hospitality/Entertainment

FMPM Policy 940 – Donated Property, Plant, Equipment and Cash

University Delegations

Other related documents and legislation

Public Service Commission Directive 22/09

Crime and Corruption Act 2001

Public Interest Disclosure Act 2010

Public Sector Ethics Act 1994

Financial Accountability Act 2009

Financial and Performance Management Standard 2019

Administration

Approval Details

Policy DomainCorporate Governance

Policy Sponsor/s

Vice Chancellor

Approval Authority

Vice Chancellor

Date for next review

02/09/2024

Revision History

Version

Approval date

Implementation date

Details

Author

21-1

02/09/202103/09/2021

Procedure developed to replace the Reportable Gifts Policy and  updated to align with the principles and expectations articulated in the Staff Code of Conduct.

Chief of Staff/University Secretary

Keywords

Gifts, Benefits, Donations, Reportable Gifts Register

Contact person

Chief of Staff