Human Resources, Policies and Procedures

Company Policies on Gifts and Hospitality

Policies for Gifts and Hospitality 

I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a fan of the Real Housewives of New York, so when an article about one of their previous cast members popped up on my news, I was intrigued.

Whilst I won’t bore you with the details, the article focused on the reality star and businesswoman giving a large amount of ‘brand new’ makeup to a large US department store chain employee.

However, the employee advised that it was company policy that she could accept gifts and feared that she would get in trouble for doing so.

All that aside, it got me thinking about why company policy varies so much in the gift-giving/receiving area and why this may be.

Of course, being a policy writer, I am fully aware of the ethical and legal pitfalls when it comes to gifts and hospitality, but what are they, and what should you as a company draw the line at?

Bribery and Corruption

The first thing that comes to mind is the risk that the giving or receiving of gifts or hospitality could be seen as a bribe or inducement of some kind of favour.

On the other hand, in certain markets, this practice is seen as a fundamental part of any above-board business relationship.

So, where does it become excessive and inappropriate?

In most cases, a simple policy outlining what is appropriate given the circumstances and timing is the best way to ensure fairness and transparency.

For example, a small gift at Christmas or a staff lunch buffet from the local supermarket may be seen as appropriate, whereas cash and any gift worth more than £50 is not.


When thinking about ethics, it is important to consider several factors:

  •  The values of the organisation.
  • The fairness of the gift or hospitality.
  • The cultural sensitivity of the gift or hospitality.

In the UK, it is expected that certain government-regulated sectors have a strict ‘no gifts’ policy to ensure that they are seen as absolutely impartial. Whereas private firms often allow such practices so long as they are in keeping with their core values, are seen as fair and non-discriminatory, and are appropriate.

But as a company or even a customer, it is crucial that you consider the recipient’s company policy and ethical stance in addition to the recipient’s personal feelings on the matter. After all, they might not even want it, and it might go against everything they believe in.

Health and Safety

Whilst health and safety wouldn’t usually be my top thoughts in relation to gifts and hospitality, the more I thought about it, the more obvious it was.

When doing something nice, the last thing you want to do is hurt someone! But giving away opened makeup or slightly out-of-date sweets that are ‘still good’ (as I was once) isn’t always appropriate and could be potentially dangerous.

Likewise, considering whether a hospitality event is safe for every participant should be a key consideration, as should the time, effort, and money that will ultimately be required to ensure that health and safety are maintained.

Other Considerations

Regarding the news story and the gift of makeup, it struck me that their policy that no employee should receive any gifts was a little harsh, given that they are working in the service industry.

After all, when we eat out, get our hair cut, or take a taxi ride, we most often leave a tip, don’t we?

But most of all, saying thank you, whether as a customer or an employer, is an important part of celebrating success and can often bring some much-needed delight!

How We Can Help

So what should your Company Policy be? Well, that’s easy; it’s entirely up to you!

All we will say is that we can help you write it.

We offer a variety of standard, custom, and fully bespoke policies. Please contact us using the form provided below for more information.


Office: 01244 342 618

Mobile Numbers

Joanne: 07764 258 001
Shaun:   07908 688 170