The Bribery Act – what does your business need to know

What’s it all about?

Bribery Act? Why should small to medium-sized businesses care about the Bribery Act? That’s the kind of thing only multi-national finance corporations and arms manufacturers worry about, isn’t it?

Not anymore.

It was way back last year when we first covered the Bribery Act on our blog but from 1 July 2011, every company that has some presence in the UK must now adhere to the Bribery Act to help stamp corruption out of business.

We’ve collated the main points here but if you need more guidance then our Sage People Advice service can help, or check out the guidance published by the Ministry of Justice.

Let’s get down to brass tacks

What do you need to know? Well firstly, there are now four new criminal offences:

  • Being bribed.
  • Bribing another.
  • Bribing a foreign official.
  • Failing to prevent bribery.

What you actually need to do depends on your type of business and where you trade. For instance, if your business could be seen to be open to potential acts of bribery, you should probably put strict policies and procedures in place to eliminate any doubt.

If it’s very unlikely that bribery could happen in your company, then drawing up and communicating one simple policy to your employees could be enough.

The key thing is that you can show that you have taken adequate steps to prevent acts of bribery from taking place. If a bribery claim is made against you, these steps can help your defence.

Will this change the way you do business?

Probably not. Things like corporate hospitality aren’t affected by the Act, as long as they are proportionate and reasonable.

There have been a few hyped-up scare stories in the media, but if you’re doing nothing wrong, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Matt Forrest, Small Business Team

For more help with HR, Employment Law, Health & Safety advice for your business, contact our Sage People Advice team on 0845 111 2450.