Gifts, Benefits and Entertainment

1 Purpose

This specification outlines the ethical and financial considerations and procedures involved in the giving and receiving of gifts, benefits and entertainment by all level of Executive, Leaders and employees, as well as organisations contracted with Queensland Rail whilst performing Queensland Rail work.

Queensland Rail recognises that the giving of corporate gifts, benefits and entertainment, enables the organisation to meet and balance its many obligations and commitments by engaging in activities that are sensible and practical.

Any gifts, benefits or entertainment received or given by a Queensland Rail employee or the organisation itself will be considered based on the principles of commerciality, reasonableness, professionalism, transparency, integrity and accountability.

2 Requirements of this Specification

The Financial Accountability Act 2009, the Crime and Corruption Act 2001, and the Queensland Rail Code of Conduct contain provisions that require Queensland Rail and its employees to act appropriately from a financial and / or ethical perspective.  It is all employees’ responsibility to understand this specification prior to accepting or offering a gift, benefit, or entertainment.

To deliver on the requirements, Queensland Rail will -

  • Follow directions of responsible Ministers in relation to entertainment and hospitality, including the requirement to comply with The GOC Corporate Entertainment and Hospitality Guidelines;
  • Exercise appropriate restraint in accepting or offering gifts and / or spending on benefits and entertainment;
  • Ensure gifts, benefits or entertainment when accepted by its people are considered in terms of the principles of commerciality, reasonableness, professionalism, transparency, integrity and accountability;
  • Exercise integrity and ethical behaviour at all times ensuring that duties are carried out and seen to be carried out impartially and with integrity;
  • Pursue the best value for money outcome at all times;
  • Ensure that spending on corporate gifts, benefits, and entertainment is directed to achieve the best social, economic and environmental outcomes for its responsible Ministers and the people of Queensland;
  • Implement processes and procedures that are easily accessible and understood;
  • Ensure transparency by maintaining appropriate registers and reporting;
  • Monitor and review compliance and performance under this Policy;
  • Take management corrective actions where non-compliances are identified; and
  • Ensure that the application of this Policy does not jeopardise the safety and wellbeing of its people, customers or the general public.

2.1 Acceptance of Gifts, Benefits and Entertainment

If offered a gift, benefit or entertainment, employees must always consider whether it is appropriate to accept it.  Issues to consider include why the offer was made and the public perception of acceptance.  

Any gift, benefit or entertainment other than a token, must not be accepted unless it can be shown to be of benefit to Queensland Rail, the State of Queensland, and / or the public generally.

Any gift of a cultural or historical significance must remain the property of Queensland Rail regardless of value.
Some general considerations in assessing whether to accept an offer or not, include –

Why was the offer made?

  • To influence the recipient that is, where someone does things to please someone else for favourable treatment.  Such offers are not to be accepted.
  • Expression of gratitude in appreciation of specific tasks or for exemplary performance of duties? In some circumstances such as after speaking at official functions as part of your duties or after a major project has finished, accepting of the offer can be considered. 
  • Marketing material given as part of a conference or trade fair.  Such items are usually mass-produced and not given as a personal gift and as such acceptance can be considered. 
  • Ceremonial gifts offered by an organisation to Queensland Rail, often provided to a host agency when conducting official business with delegates from another organisation.  Such gifts can be considered and usually retained by Queensland Rail.

Public perception of acceptance?

  • What is the relationship between the giver and the receiver?  If the Queensland Rail employee is in a position to influence or authorise granting work or payment for work completed to the offerer, then it is more likely that the offer would be perceived as inappropriate.
  • The transparency and openness of the gift.  If the offer is made to the Queensland Rail employee in a public forum, it is less likely to be perceived as an attempt to influence than if it were offered in a private context.
  • The value of the gift, benefits or entertainment offered - with expensive items more likely to be perceived as trying to win favour.
  • The frequency of the giving.  While the perception that one offer may not be considered sufficient to cause an employee to act outside their official duty, the sum of multiple offers may be considered to do so.
  • Is the offer of a breakfast or lunchtime information session where light provisions are provided made to all a businesses’ clients?  Acceptance may not be seen an issue, but could be an issue where the offer was for a number of clients to attend an expensive speaking, social or sporting event.
  • If partners or children of Queensland Rail employee attend an event it is more perceived as a private event.

A Useful Decision Making Guide has been included in Appendix 2 to assist in making a decision to accept an offer or not.  It is provided as an example only and specific circumstances should be discussed with an employee’s leader.

Any offer to a Queensland Rail employee, except those offered as part of an appropriately approved Queensland Rail program, must comply with this specification. 

Failure to comply with this specification can result in disciplinary action including dismissal and referral to police and integrity bodies. 

2.2 Retention of Gifts, Benefits and Entertainment

Gifts, benefits or entertainment, (excluding cash and equivalent which regardless of value cannot be accepted), offered to employees or Queensland Rail by external parties, remain the property of Queensland Rail, with the leader of the recipient determining if it is appropriate for the recipient to retain or accept the offer subject to the following:

2.2.1 Accepted with less than $20 value

Any gift, benefits or entertainment accepted by an employee which has a retail value of $20 or less, may be retained as the property of the employee if acceptance is not likely to affect, or reasonably be perceived to affect, the independent and impartial performance of the employee’s official duties.
Leaders of certain areas of Queensland Rail for example Procurement or other business areas or employees involved at different times in procuring or decision making function, may decide to apply a lower dollar value threshold, including a ‘no’ acceptance policy.

2.2.2 Accepted with value of more than $20

Any gift, benefit or entertainment over $20, (including where the pro-rata value per person is less than $20) must be reported as per section 2.4.
Where an employee wishes to accept a gift, benefit, or entertainment over the $20 threshold, the employee will need to obtain supervisor/manager approval of acceptance of the gift, benefit or entertainment. The required level of supervisor/manager approval is GLT level or above, except that acceptance of a gift, benefit, or entertainment over the value of $350 can only be approved by the CEO.

A leader cannot grant approval for his or herself.

Any gift of a cultural or historical significance must remain the property of Queensland Rail regardless of value.

2.2.3 Acceptance must not involve time away from official duties

Gifts, benefits or entertainment can only be used outside of the employee’s normal working hours or on approved leave, unless it forms part of the employee’s official duties and appropriate approval is obtained.

2.2.4 Disposal of non-retainable Gifts

Where it is assessed that a gift received should not be retained by Queensland Rail or an employee, there are several strategies that can be considered –

  • Return the gift to the offerer;
  • Determine if the item can be used by Queensland Rail e.g. a digital camera;
  • For low value items, use within Queensland Rail to reward an employee for exceptional performance; e.g. bottle of wine;
  • For low value gifts that can be readily divided, share amongst the team e.g. a fruit basket.
  • Through Queensland Rail’s Corporate and Customer Relations Unit donate the gift to a Queensland Rail charity;
  • Dispose of through Queensland Rail’s authorised auctioneer.

Other approaches will be considered as appropriate when referred to Legal Unit.

2.2.5 Determining values

Employees should ensure they have an appropriate person or themselves, research to verify the estimated retail value of any gift, benefit or entertainment.  Deliberately or negligently providing an undervalued amount to avoid reporting or to fraudulently keep it may be corrupt conduct.
Where a gift, benefit or entertainment has been given, at a single (or near single) point in time, to one or more than one employee, and the combined value (aggregate total) comes to more than $20, the total value is to be reported in the corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register maintained by Legal Unit.

2.2.6 Offers of Cash or Equivalent

Any offer of cash, or any items which are readily converted to cash (e.g. lottery ticket, ‘scratchie’, shares), must be refused in all circumstances as they may breach legislative requirements and be seen as an attempt at bribery.   If an employee is not in a position to refuse the acceptance of such a gift, they must immediately report it through to their leader and Ethics@qr.com.au.  In exceptional circumstances, such as an award which involves a cash prize, express approval from the General Counsel must be obtained. 
Gifts or offers of cash must be reported immediately to an employee’s leader and Ethics@qr.com.au

2.3 Giving of Corporate gifts, benefits and entertainment

The provisions of this specification also apply to the giving of gifts, benefits or entertainment by Queensland Rail or its employees which is considered to be an accepted and standard business practice supporting the fostering of strong relationships with Queensland Rail’s customers and stakeholders (including Queensland Rail staff), in order to achieve beneficial commercial outcomes, including promoting and furthering the Queensland Rail brand and business

Consideration must be given to why the expenditure is being incurred and the public perception of the offer and expenditure.  The offer and expenditure must be commensurate with the commercial or business purpose and not be extravagant or flamboyant.  For advice, consult the Corporate and Customer Relations Team.

Any offer must be for official purposes and the giver must be able to identify the benefit to Queensland Rail, the State of Queensland and / or the public generally.  Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) implications need to be considered when making decisions and can apply to both business and private expenditure classifications within this specification.

Unless as otherwise stated in this Specification, expenditure will be authorised by personnel in accordance with Queensland Rail’s delegation framework.  Authorising personnel must ensure sufficient supporting information prior to approving the expenditure. Expenditure incurred is to be supported by business cases, fringe benefits tax forms, tax invoices, receipts, and post event evaluation reports as appropriate. 

An expenditure listing relating to the giving of specific corporate gifts, benefits or entertainment is provided in Appendix 3.
Corporate gifts, benefits and entertainment given of a value greater than $20, and not exempted under section 2.4 below are to be reported for the corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register regardless of the pro-rata dollar value per individual recipient. 

2.3.1 Corporate Gifts

The practice of giving gifts should not be common or frequent in occurrence.  The appropriateness of gift giving must be considered, and appropriate approval must be obtained from an authorised (financially delegated) officer.  Where a corporate gift is to be given consideration should be given to selecting an appropriate gift from the official Queensland Rail Range maintained by Corporate and Customer Relations Unit.

2.3.2 Corporate Benefits and Entertainment

Expenditure for official entertainment or benefits must be considered only where it is essential to facilitate the conduct of Queensland Rail business.  Such benefits should not be a substitute for business meetings which would ordinarily be conducted in the workplace.

Where corporate entertainment is provided, Queensland Rail personnel attending will be those who can best achieve the corporate objective of the event.  It is also acknowledged that in some cases it may be appropriate for partners (or other family members) of the Queensland Rail representative(s) to attend.  This must be pre-approved by an Executive Leader (ELT member), or in their case, the CEO.  In the event of the CEO or a Board Member, the Chairman of the Board to approve.

In certain cases, it may be appropriate to provide benefits or entertainment to individuals of particular importance to Queensland Rail or the State. Examples would include -

  • Interstate and overseas visitors where Queensland Rail has an interest in, or a specific obligation towards, facilitating the visit;
  • Representatives of business or industry, trade unions and recognised community organisations, the press and other media; and
  • Representatives of other levels of government in exceptional circumstances only.

2.3.3 Corporate and Major Events

Corporate and Customer Relations must be notified prior to initiating any major event, and can assist businesses where required.  Further, where the value or commitment of the event costs $5,000 or more, details must be provided to the responsible Ministers via Corporate and Customer Relations, to ensure clear accountability and that those events demonstrate commercial or business benefit to Queensland Rail.

A post event evaluation of larger events is to be undertaken by the organising business and submitted to Corporate and Customer Relations to be used in reporting to the Board and responsible Ministers. 

2.3.4 Queensland Rail Donation and Sponsorship

Whilst the general principles relating to integrity and commercial benefits apply, official sponsorship and donations are covered under a separate Standard and that Standard will take precedence in the event of any inconsistency. 

2.4 Reporting of Gifts, Benefits and Entertainment

Any gift, benefit or entertainment received or given that has a retail value of more than $20, or equates to an aggregate total of more than $20, must be recorded in the corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register maintained by Legal’s Ethics team.

Examples and exemptions are provided in the Terms and Definitions section of this Specification.

Reporting must occur in a timely basis, and within one month of receipt. The exception is offers of cash (including cash equivalent) which must be reported immediately.

If employees are in doubt about whether a matter ought to be reported, they should err on the side of caution and report it to their leader and/or Legal Unit for the Corporate Gifts, Benefits  Entertainment register.

Any gifts, of a cultural or historical significance, must be reported, regardless of their value.

The content of the corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register will be subject to ongoing consideration by Legal Unit for the purpose of analysis for trends or patterns which may cause concern of potential conflict of interest, corruption or other inappropriate behaviour, and need for corrective and prevention action.

The corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register will be published.

Annual budgeted and actual expenditure for corporate entertainment and hospitality are to be reported in Queensland Rail’s quarterly reports to the responsible Ministers.

3 Responsibilities

The following establishes the unique accountabilities and responsibilities of the key internal stakeholders for this Specification.

3.1 Who does what?

General Counsel Where cash gifts cannot be declined, consider how they are to be dealt with.

Corporate and Customer Relations Oversee corporate gifts, benefits and entertainment offered by Queensland Rail, or employees as part of their duties and ministerial reporting.
Executive Management Consider approving or not an employee accepting and / or keeping a gift, benefit or entertainment greater than $350. 

Leaders Consider approving or not an employee accepting and / or keeping a gift, benefit or entertainment between $20 and $350.

Ensure that expenditure and receipts over $20 (or cash and equivalent) are reported to Legal.

Legal Team Maintain the corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register and provide general advice on protocols and consideration in relation to receiving or giving gifts, benefits or entertainment.
 

4 Terms and definitions

The following key terms and definitions are unique to this Procedure. Please refer to the Business Glossary for other terms not included in this section.

Conflict of Interest 

A conflict of interest involves a conflict between an employee’s duties and responsibilities and the employee’s private interests. A conflict of interest can arise from avoiding personal losses as well as gaining personal advantage – whether financial or otherwise.

Source: Code of Conduct  MD-10-62

Corrupt Conduct Conduct of a person, regardless of whether the person holds or held an appointment, that –

(a) adversely affects, or could adversely affect, directly or indirectly, the performance of functions or the exercise of powers of –
(i) Queensland Rail; or
(ii) a person holding an appointment in Queensland Rail; and

(b) results, or could result, directly or indirectly, in the performance of functions or the exercise of powers mentioned in paragraph (a) in a way that –
(i) is not honest or is not impartial; or
(ii) involves a breach of the trust placed in a person holding an appointment either knowingly or recklessly; or
(iii) involves a misuse of information or material acquired in or in connection with the performance of functions or the exercise of powers of a person holding an appointment; and

(c) is engaged in for the purpose of providing a benefit to the person or another person or causing a detriment to another person; and

(d) would, if proved, be –
(i) a criminal offence; or
(ii) a disciplinary breach providing reasonable grounds for terminating the person’s services, if the person is or were the holder of an appointment Section 15 of the Crime and Corruption Act 2001

Corporate Gifts, Benefits and Entertainment 

Queensland Rail may provide official gifts, benefits, and entertainment to external persons and organisations, as well as internally to Queensland Rail staff, if it promotes and furthers the Queensland Rail brand and business. 

This expenditure is generally marketing and/or social in nature and maybe fully or partially funded by Queensland Rail.

In regards to corporate entertainment, this describes situations or events, fully or partially paid for by Queensland Rail, in a social setting where catering and/or entertainment are provided.

The expenditure for corporate gifts, benefits, and entertainment must be fully documented, and publicly defensible on the basis that the primary purpose is work-related. 

Such expenditure is not to be used as a substitute for business meetings or to by-pass other existing Queensland Rail processes.

Where the aggregate (combined) value exceeds $20, the expenditure is to be reported for capture in the corporate Gifts, Benefits & Entertainment register.

Examples of the type of expenditure that is reportable include -

  • Marketing events involving catering and /or entertainment
  • Gifts e.g. to visiting delegates of other organisations
  • Meals (including beverages), and expenditure on a person of particular importance to Queensland Rail
  • Gifts, benefits or entertainment offered to staff unless specifically exempted (see below)
  • Functions for Queensland Rail staff (incl. contractors, and supplier) celebrating conclusion of a project or milestone
  • Staff Christmas functions or contributions thereto made by Queensland Rail
  • Staff awards evenings e.g. Apprentice of the Year

Queensland Rail expenditure on the following are not reportable through this process, though responsible managers are to ensure they can justify the expenditure process –

  • Gifts in recognition of performance or staff length of service from the HR “Recognising Performance” program
  • Sponsorship of, or attendance at, seminars and like events
  • Donations for example of cash, assets, historical or other items
  • Giveaways, prizes and awards for customers such as part of a sales campaign
  • Staff discounts including travel and concessional ticket passes or other benefits provided under Enterprise Agreement
  • Minor catering for in-house (on QR premises) business meetings, information sessions, internal conferences or programs, for Queensland Rail employee 
  • Meals (including beverages) provided to staff (including contractors and suppliers) and customers in response to an incident such as train delays, or derailments
  • Concessions or reimbursements to staff for study, professional organisation membership or other, and generally subject to Fringe Benefits Tax
  • ‘Famils’ (familiarisation trips) offered on long distance services to media (and others) to experience the Queensland Rail train travel experience
    Nb. ‘Corporate Hospitality’ is captured within the meaning of ‘corporate gifts, benefits, and entertainment’. 

Gifts, Benefits and Entertainment 

Refers to items given and received in the course of official duties and includes tangible (of lasting value) and intangible (of no lasting value) items.

Gifts, benefits and entertainment include, but are not limited to:

  • Gifts of alcohol, clothes, products;
  • Gifts of travel or accommodation;
  • Preferential treatment such as queue jumping, use of facilities, benefits or benefits generally;
  • Free conference attendance in exchange for presenting a paper at the conference;
  • Cap, pen, pencil, notepad, bottle of wine, bunch of flowers, box of chocolates;
  • Free use of facilities such as gyms, holiday homes or discounted travel;
  • Corporate offers of transportation, accommodation, tickets, meals and functions as part of a major event;
  • Awards or prizes including lucky door prizes or similar;
  • Tickets to the theatre, cultural events, sporting and other events or access to a private spectator box at a sporting or other venue;
  • Restaurant meals and beverages; and
  • Sports team sponsorship.

Similar exemptions from reporting apply as detailed in definition of ‘“corporate gifts, benefits and entertainment.’ 

Source: Public Sector Commission Guideline – Gifts and Benefits

Hospitality Is captured within the meaning of ‘gifts, benefits, and entertainment’. 

Major Event 

Would include any activity that is likely to attract public attention due to the profile of guests attending, the level of expenditure, the likely publicity, etc.  
Similar Relationship Includes;

  • Persons who have a contractual arrangement (e.g. a contractor and sub-contractor)
  • Persons/organisations jointly participating in a particular project
  • Persons with a shared interest/membership  

Token

They are usually products that are mass-produced and not given as a personal gift. This includes sponsors material provided to all delegates at a conference. 

Token benefits and entertainment are of a low value nature for example a cup of coffee.   

Appendices

Appendix 1 – Related documents

Queensland Rail documents

Principle 

  • MD-12-378  Accounting

Standard 

  • MD-10-62  Code of Conduct

Strategy / Plan 

  • N/A

Specification / Framework 

  • N/A

Procedure 

  • N/A

Instruction 

  • N/A

Guideline

 N/A

Form / Template 

  • N/A

Other 

  • Corporate Entertainment and Hospitality Guidelines issued by Queensland Treasury per direction by responsible Ministers 3 May 2013