2.5 Gifts and Hospitality

The provision and receipt of gifts and hospitality to individual members of staff is a sensitive area for a publicly funded institution. Members of staff and members of the governing body may, on occasion, be offered gifts or hospitality simply as a mark of courtesy or gratitude. Such offers can place staff in a difficult position, since to refuse may cause offence but to accept may, in certain circumstances, be open to misinterpretation. The University has therefore drawn up the following regulations to avoid misunderstanding and to provide staff with a framework for dealing with difficult situations.

2.5.1 Receipt of Gifts

All offers of gifts, in any way connected to the University activities of a member of staff or member of the governing body, other than those of a small intrinsic value, MUST be declined. In this context, small intrinsic value can be taken to include gifts up to the value of £50 in any year, such as for example diaries, mouse mats or bottles of wine at Christmas. 

Gifts of money or vouchers, such as book tokens (as they can be translated into cash) MUST always be refused, even where they have a value below £50.

Offers of gifts that have been declined MUST be reported by email to the Director of Finance. This information will be used to identify individuals or companies who persistently offer inappropriate gifts.

Should a gift with a value of greater than £50 be sent or left for a member of staff or member of the governing body without their knowledge, then such gifts should be returned to the sender with an explanation to indicate that acceptance is not permitted under the University’s Financial Regulations. Members of staff are encouraged to contact corporate organizations who are in the habit of sending regular gifts to seek removal from their distribution lists. Where the return of a gift would be likely to cause offense, the gift may be retained centrally by the University. In such instances departments should contact the Director of Finance for instructions. 

Gifts offered by students to members of staff of the University MUST be declined where there is ANY potential for conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest. If students indicate that they, or their family, wish to show their appreciation to the University through philanthropic donations or gifts, they MUST be directed to the Development and Alumni Relations Office who will progress matters appropriately in accordance with the University’s Acceptance and Refusal of Donations Policy.  Small gifts given by students who have completed their studies may be accepted and retained by the University where refusal would give offence. Heads of department are authorized, on behalf of the University, to decide whether such gifts should be distributed by a raffle, retained centrally by the University or retained by the recipient. Heads of departments should maintain a record of such decisions.

2.5.2 Provision of Gifts

The provision of gifts from the University to third parties must be limited to branded University merchandise, or where circumstances are appropriate, to the presentation of flowers, chocolate, biscuits, etc.  Alcohol or Tobacco are expressly prohibited as acceptable gifts from the University to third parties. 

No gifts are permitted to be made to University staff or students paid for by University funds other than in the case of the University’s long service awards scheme.

2.5.3 Receipt of Hospitality

Members of staff and members of the governing body and its committees may accept meals or equivalent hospitality, only in the course of conducting University business. Offers of hospitality, outside of a working context, such as corporate hospitality events, or offers which are on a scale significantly greater than the University would be likely to provide in return, MUST be refused.

Any offers of hospitality that are outwith that permitted under this Financial Regulation must be reported by email to the Director of Finance. This information will be used to identify individuals or companies who persistently offer inappropriate hospitality.

Any member of staff who is unclear as to whether particular circumstances are appropriate should contact their line manager, who may, if necessary, contact the Director of Finance for guidance.

2.5.4 Provision of Hospitality

Where the provision of hospitality is offered to visitors to the University, one of the following MUST be offered the business:

  • the University’s Residential and Commercial Services Division;
  • the College Court Conference Centre
  • the catering services offered by the Students’ Union;  or
  • catering services offered on NHS premises.

In the rare event that none of the above suppliers are able to provide the required service, a third party supplier such as a local restaurant may then be used. Expense claims requesting reimbursement of costs for non-University provided hospitality services will only be processed when accompanied by evidence that none of the above University services had been able to provide the required service.

In the rare event that a third party service is to be provided on University premises and food and drink brought in, the provider of the service MUST have been approved in advance by Residential and Commercial Services.

With the exception of formal executive University events, the cost of hospitality provided should not normally exceed £40 per head on any one occasion. There is an expectation that the number of University staff should not normally exceed the number of visitors.

The following information must be collected and retained for all hospitality events.

a) The name(s) of all attendee(s);

b) The organisation(s) which they represent; and

c) The reason of the hospitality (for example, "lunch following negotiation of contract").

Wherever possible the internal ordering and recharging system should be used and the above information MUST be included on the internal invoice. Where it is not possible to use these arrangements the expense claim form (EC1) MUST include the above information.

Where hospitality is provided by the University away from Leicester, necessary hospitality costs will be reimbursed on production of receipts. These costs should not normally exceed £40 per head on any one occasion. Prior approval should be sought from the Director of Finance where it is clear that these limits may be breached when the hospitality is being arranged. Director of Finance is permitted under the regulations to limit excessive claims to the £40 limit. There is an expectation that the number of University staff should not exceed the number of third parties. Reimbursement claims, which must be made on the expenses claim form (EC1) MUST include the following information:

a) The name(s) of all attendee(s);

b) The organisation(s) which they represent; and

c) The purpose of the hospitality (for example, "negotiation of contract").

The University will not reimburse costs incurred on hospitality offered at the home of members of staff. Nor will it reimburse gifts or financial contributions in recognition of hospitality offered by third parties to members of staff, for example where members of staff stay the homes of friends in the locality of University business visits. Both of these are deemed by the University to be private arrangements.

2.5.5 Provision of Hospitality to Students

With the exception of light refreshments at meetings and other events in which students participate as partners in their learning and career development, it is the general expectation that the provision of hospitality to students should be limited to refreshments at a welcome or post-graduation event. It is permitted to make a contribution from departmental funds to a course social event at a weekend school. All refreshments MUST be sourced from the University’s Residential and Commercial Services Division.

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