1. Purpose of policy
1.1 This policy provides a framework for University staff on the ethical considerations and procedures involved in the giving and receiving of gifts and benefits in the course of their official duties.
1.2 It is essential that all University staff not place themselves in situations which could lead to, or be seen to give rise to, a conflict of interest.
1.3 All members of the University should be aware of the provisions of the USC Staff Code of Conduct - Governing Policy which provides guidance for staff of the University in the ethical conduct of their duties. To assist staff to ensure that their duties are carried out impartially and with integrity, this policy has been developed to provide guidance in instances where gifts or benefits are to be given or received.
2. Policy scope and application
This policy applies to all staff of the University and should be read in conjunction with the principles relating to the giving and receipt of gifts and benefits outlined in the Public Sector Ethics Act 1994, the USC Staff Code of Conduct and the Financial Accountability Act 2009.
Gifts and benefits means:
- the transfer of property or other benefit
- without recompense; or
- for a consideration substantially less than full consideration; or
- a loan of property made on a permanent, or an indefinite, basis; received or given by a staff member when they are acting in their official capacity
For the purposes of this policy, gifts and/or benefits include tangible items of lasting value and intangible items of no lasting value (including hospitality).
It does not include any gifts or benefits given or received under an appropriately approved employee health and well-being program or an appropriately approved rewards and recognition program. It does not include benefits negotiated when the University sponsors a service, product or activity on its own or with another University or government agency.
Intangible gift or benefit is one which has no lasting value and which cannot be dealt with as property of the University. Examples include but are not limited to:
- entertainment and hospitality
- tickets to theatre, cultural or sporting events
- corporate offers or transportation, accommodation, meals and functions
- conference transportation, accommodation and fees
An intangible gift or benefit can be nominal, significant or reportable and must be dealt with in accordance with this policy.
Tangible gift or benefit is one having a significant or lasting real value. Examples include but are not limited to:
- ornaments, furniture, works of art or jewellery
- computers or palm pilots
Nominal gift means any gift or benefit with a value of less than $150 (or equivalent in any foreign currency).
Significant gift means any gift or benefit with a value of between $150 and $350 (or equivalent in any foreign currency); or a series of such gifts received from a single donor or made to a single recipient within a calendar year, where the total value is between $150 and $350 (or equivalent in any foreign currency).
Reportable gift means any gift or benefit with a value of more than $350 (or equivalent in any foreign currency); or a series of such gifts received from a single donor or made to a single recipient within a calendar year, where the total value is more than $350 (or equivalent in any foreign currency).
Cash item means money, or any items easily converted to cash (e.g. loan, voucher, “scratchies”, shares or lottery ticket), regardless of value.
Fair market value means the reasonable retail value of the gift or benefit at the time the gift was given or received, if this is difficult to establish then the fair value as determined by the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer. If there is difficulty in assessing the value, a valuation must be obtained from an appropriately experienced person or body.
Public perception means the perception of a fair-minded person in possession of the facts.
4. Policy statement
4.1 University staff shall not
- solicit for private purposes any benefit in connection with that person's official function and duties
- accept any benefit for any official function or duties performed or not performed which could create a conflict of interest or be seen to create such conflict
- accept any gift or money or benefit by way of loans and the like for any functions or duties performed or not performed
4.2 Staff members should be aware of the provisions of the USC Staff Code of Conduct – Governing Policy.
4.3 Any gift or benefit accepted by a staff member remains the property of the University unless the Vice-Chancellor and President (or delegate) determines it is appropriate for the recipient to retain the gift or benefit. A staff member of the University may accept a tangible (of lasting value) or intangible (of no lasting value) gift or benefit provided that it complies with the requirements outlined in this Policy and the associated Staff Gifts and Benefits Procedure.
4.4 Any gifts of cultural or historical significance must remain the property of the University regardless of their value.
4.5 Staff must not accept any gifts involving cash items, regardless of value, other than as part of an appropriately approved rewards and recognition program approved by the University. Accepting money in any form will breach a number of legislative requirements. If staff are not in a position to refuse the acceptance of such a gift, they should immediately notify and pass the gift onto the University’s Director, Financial Services or a member of the Executive.
4.6 If a gift or benefit is retained by the University, it must be used for public benefit and in an appropriate manner. If the University does not have an appropriate use for the gift or benefit it may be disposed of in accordance with these principles:
- Disposal of gifts must be in the public interest and pay due respect to the wishes and expectations of the donor (if known). Disposal by donation to a charity, hospital, school, community or non-profit organisation or similar should be considered
- Disposal of gifts to individuals is not allowed
- The disposal should be properly documented for audit purposes
- Conflicts of interest should be avoided
4.7 These provisions should not be construed as prohibiting the pursuit of financial assistance or benefit to the University where such pursuit is lawful.
4.8 The associated procedure distinguishes between nominal, significant and reportable gifts and provides guidance on the action to be taken by staff in relation to the giving and receiving of gifts and benefits.