International - Written by on Monday, April 4, 2011 23:41 - 0 Comments

What’s this got to do with me. We burst the HR bubble.

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Last week we were invited to speak to a group of Human Resource professionals.

At the discussion we asked how many thought the Bribery Act was their bailiwick.  Not many was the answer.  That was something that fell firmly under compliance.  Right?

Wrong.

We asked what would happen if there was a dawn raid?

Most thought that one of the Directors or Senior Management would deal with it.  No, we said.  They’ve all been arrested – so we asked again.  Who gets the call? The penny dropped.  “The HR department…?:” someone asked.

In our experience it is not unusual for the HR team to take a call from a worried receptionist when the Police come knocking and the directors are held incommunicado.  That inspired us to ask for a guest post on employment law and the Bribery Act.  So here it is.

By Ed Goodwyn

The truth is the HR function has an important role to play in preparing for the implementation of the Bribery Act.

On top of our Dawn Raid fun employers will have to produce evidence to demonstrate “adequate procedures” were in place where a company faces prosecution under the Act for the offence of failure to prevent bribery.  The HR team will be very helpful in communicating the message to employees and putting together some of the policies.  Where there is a bribery problem you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be an employee involved. Somewhere.

Policies and procedures

HR professionals are well versed in ensuring that proper policies are in place and strategies are adopted to embed those policies in the business. Company procedures must demonstrate an understanding of the corruption risks your business faces, show top level commitment to establishing a culture of anti-corruption across the organisation, and contain clear, practical policies and procedures on matters such as gifts, hospitality and facilitation procedures.

Contracts of employment

Contracts of employment should expressly state that bribery is not acceptable and could result in termination of employment. Disciplinary procedures should list bribery as an example of gross misconduct. Vague provisions in the contract and policies will not be sufficient.

References

Howard Sklar makes the point on references in his piece here.  He gave the following example:

“I once prosecuted a woman that almost bankrupted the company she worked for through her embezzlement. Turns out, she had done the exact same thing before with the last company she worked for. The first company fully cooperated with the prosecution, and she went to jail. When she got out, she applied to the second company. When she applied, she put the first company—the one that prosecuted her for theft—as a reference! The second company she worked for never checked the references. So yes, please always check references.”

We’ve experienced similar examples.  Establishing whether a potential recruit has previously been dismissed for bribery (or other dishonesty) offences is very important.

The culture

Bonus provisions in contracts of employment should also be reviewed to ensure that they are not encouraging sales at whatever cost and a culture where bribery is acceptable.

Employees could be placed under an express obligation to report bribery with adequate procedures being put in place to allow them to do so.

Employers should consider setting up (and in many cases should set up) a confidential whistleblower helpline.  Whistle blowing policies can be updated to reassure employers that they will be protected where they make an allegation of bribery in good faith.

Training staff on the Bribery Act will go a long way towards demonstrating “adequate procedures”. Making attendance at training a specific objective as part of the annual review process or any bonus payment dependent on attendance will encourage employees to attend and help to demonstrate that the company is taking the issue seriously. Getting senior buy in to the training programme and the importance of compliance with the Act will be critical.

Dawn Raid anyone?

Oh, and what do you do if there is a Dawn Raid.  We can give you some training on that.  You have a fire drill every few months why wouldn’t you have some Dawn Raid training…

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