‘Tis The Season, To Know Your Gift Policy


The end of the year is a time for celebration and festivities. But it can also be a time when questions arise in the workplace about the appropriateness of gifts from vendors and clients. This is a good opportunity for managers to review gift policies with all employees.

Gift Giving Ethics

Clearly articulated policies can help avoid some uncomfortable situations. Employers need to be very clear on what kinds of gifts from parties outside the organization are and are not allowed. Accepting gifts from vendors, customer sand other outside parties can create the appearance of a conflict of interest.When establishing or updating holiday gift policies, be explicit on whether any gift-giving or gift-receiving at all is allowed or is there a dollar limit threshold put in place.

Many companies completely forbid outside gifts to employees because they could be seen as attempts to influence employee behavior. In these cases, employers should set a clearly articulated no-gift policy and communicate it to employees as well as vendors and other outside parties.  When putting a policy in place would explain the possible consequences and reinforce why it was established.

Most importantly, the gift policy must be consistent with any other existing ethics programs. After all, the point of such a policy is to encourage, high standards of honesty and integrity in decision-making and behavior.

Gift Giving Guidelines

Companies that allow employees to receive gifts from vendors should set appropriate parameters. The most popular approach involves the establishment of a maximum-dollar value.  These policies can make a distinction between gifts that are considered de minimis, such as those valued at or under a certain dollar threshold (for example; $25or $50) and gifts of greater value, which would need to be reported to executive management.

Listed below are some additional specific gifting situations that can arise.  It’s always better to be prepared than to have a situation surprise everyone involved.

  • Some gifts may be offered to the company generally instead of to a specific person, the policy should also include how the company will handle these kinds of gifts. For example; many companies share holiday vendor gifts with all employees or donate business gifts (food, candy, baskets, etc.) to charitable organizations in the local area.
  • Even if you can accept gifts, some gifts may collide with other policies.  For example, some vendors and suppliers may give a bottle of wine or other alcohol as a gift.  Yet, many employers prohibit alcohol in the workplace.  Address head on:  If you are given a gift of alcohol, do not open or consume at work.
  • Make clear that there should be no gifts of a sexual or suggestive nature.
  • Remember, not all employees celebrate holidays at same time of year (or celebrate holidays at all). Legal and employee relations considerations require that we consider time off (now or at other times of the year) on days other than when our offices close.

Susan Arnold
HR On-Call, LLC
p. 515.401.2233
e. Susan@HROn-Call.com


A little more about us:
Susan Arnold, owner and lead HR Consultant at HR On-Call, LLC. Susan has 20+ years of HR experience and provides a HR presence to business organizations without the overhead expense of a full-time employee. Susan helps business owners improve employer/employee relationships and allows them to focus on their business while resting assured that they are in full compliance with state and federal law.

Areas of expertise:

  • Reduce Employer Risk and Liability
  • Customized Employee Handbooks
  • Performance Reviews
  • Improve Employee/Employer Relationships
  • Background Checks
  • Personality Assessments
  • Guaranteed EEO Compliance
  • Employee Retention
  • Recruitment / Hiring
  • Employee Discipline/Discharge

Susan is passionate about her customers and listens to their needs. If you are interested in any of the details above or would like more information about her services, please contact Susan!

If you have questions on how your specific policy should read or need help navigating a certain instance, contact HR On-Call, LLC

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