BANELE manages client affairs for his firm. Every year, around the festive season, clients bring him gifts like whisky and cigars to thank him for all his help during the year.
Recently, a friend told him it might be a conflict of interest and that he could get into serious trouble for it.
Unsure what a conflict of interest is in terms of the law, Banele decided to phone Scorpion Legal Protection’s contact centre, which he can access as he is a member of Scorpion.
What does the law say?
A conflict of interest is when a person does their job, sells their skills, or acts in any manner where they personally benefit from it, but that puts the employer, client or any other person at a disadvantage.
Employees should be loyal to their employer.
They should not seek personal gain, which might put the company at a disadvantage.
The employee should therefore carry out their work diligently, according to the employer’s instructions.
Employees should also avoid bringing the employer’s name into disrepute and avoid becoming involved in any activity that could clash with the employer’s interests.
How does it work?
In Banele’s case, the receiving of gifts from clients may be seen as a conflict of interest. It could divert Banele’s loyalty from the employer to the client in such a way that he got beneficial treatment.
In terms of the law, this is a grey area.
To cover themselves and their employees, companies should adopt a policy framework that sets a threshold amount over which all gifts received in the line of duty have to be reported and recorded in a register.
Gifts may include money, sponsorships, goods, tickets to events, free or partly-paid holidays and rebates. All gifts, irrespective of the value thereof, should be reported.
Any person who fails to adhere to the policy may be subject to disciplinary action – or dismissed if found guilty.
The way forward
Scorpion members can get advice on such cases.
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