On 1 July 2011 the Bribery Act (2010) came into force across the UK, making it a criminal offence for an individual or organisation to offer or receive a bribe – and carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years if convicted. We look at what this important piece of legislation means for Employers in our article here.

A 2011 Fraud Survey poll by Ernst & Young found 1 employee in 7 working at large UK companies said they would be prepared to offer bribes to win business and 1 in 6 said they would offer personal gifts to win a deal. Only a quarter of respondents said they were aware of an anti-bribery policy at their organisation. Ernst & Young believe that organisations in the UK should be concerned that their employees have little understanding of fraud and corruption, and in the current climate of cost-cutting, this could create additional exposure to bribery and fraud risks.

What should Employers do?

The last offence (Failing to prevent bribery) is a Corporate offence which in detail is ‘failure by a commercial organisation to prevent bribery that is intended to obtain or retain business, or an advantage in the conduct of business, for the organisation’. This is a crucial area for organisations as they will need to show they had in place ‘adequate procedures’ designed to prevent bribery by (or of) persons associated with the organisation, to have a defence against this corporate offence.

So, if a bribe happens, the company will be expected to show it had adequate ‘bribery prevention measures’ in place. If it fails to do so the company and its senior executives may be liable. So the Act aims to punish those who make a bribe and those who turn a blind eye.