1. The Policy
The National Theatre rejects bribery in all its forms and, accordingly, no employee may make, or take, bribes in any way connected with the National Theatre’s business or any part of it. The same prohibition will apply to any external agent, consultant or other “associated person” in any context where the National Theatre determines there is a potential risk of bribery occurring.
2. Meaning of Bribery
“Bribery” is defined in The Bribery Act 2010. The definition is relatively complex for an act which most people would in their own minds define rather more simply. This policy seeks to be clear as to what the National Theatre will not tolerate in this regard and accordingly the prohibition relates to conduct which satisfies all the following elements:
(i) a financial or other advantage is given, offered, promised, requested, received, agreed or accepted, including where a third party ultimately benefits from any such act;
(ii) such act can reasonably be viewed as either (a) intended to influence someone to perform a duty improperly or to reward a person for so doing or (b) an inducement to a person to perform a duty improperly or to reward any person for so doing; and
(iii) such act can reasonably be viewed as intended to result in a business advantage to the National Theatre or any third party.
3. Impact on Business Entertaining
According to government guidance, the new legislation generally seeks to exclude from the meaning of bribery reasonable business entertaining. The provisions in the legislation are not, however, quite as clear. Accordingly, the National Theatre has had to restate the business entertaining section of the Expenses Policy, the key points of which are as follows:
Entertaining business contacts is generally a legitimate activity although this would normally not exceed the offer of a meal and/or theatre tickets. The National Theatre will accept expense claims by employees that are reasonable in all the circumstances but even in special cases the cost per head should not exceed £50 plus VAT where applicable without prior approval.
Other points to note in this regard are:
(i) Claims forms will still need to name, and explain the relationship with, each of the parties entertained;
(ii) National Theatre staff should not normally make up more than 50% of the number of people entertained;
(iii) Under the new law, there is no generally permitted acceptable level of expenditure; accordingly, if business entertaining in any particular context could be treated as bribery (as defined above), it should be avoided, although given the limits specified this is very unlikely to be the case; and
(iv) Employees must refer proposed entertaining that might contravene the guidelines to the Chief Operating Officer or Executive Director for approval; claims falling outside the guidelines which have not been pre-approved may be rejected in whole or in part.
4. Reporting of Hospitality and Gifts
The reporting of hospitality and gifts will continue as a requirement for all staff. The current requirement is that all staff must report to the Finance Director any hospitality or gifts with an individual value in excess of £200.
5. Policy Breaches
Proven policy breaches (other than where related to business entertaining involving meals and/or theatre tickets) will be considered as gross misconduct for the purposes of the applicable terms and conditions of the relevant person’s employment. Accordingly the consequence may be as severe as summary dismissal. In cases of breaches of financial limits where the entertaining involves meals and/or theatre tickets, in circumstances where breach of the limits has not been pre-approved, the National Theatre reserves the right to institute the appropriate disciplinary procedure.
6. Whistle-blowing, Reporting and Guidance
The Board and Executive consider that any form of bribery would be grossly offensive to every employee and officer of the National Theatre, particularly given the National Theatre’s charitable nature and its objectives within our society. Accordingly if any employee wishes to disclose possible instances of bribery, he or she should feel free to do so at any time. Absolute confidentiality as to the identity of any such employee shall be respected so far as legally possible. Please see the Whistleblowing Policy, available on the Staff Intranet, for guidance as to protection from discrimination and the procedures for making disclosures. This Policy covers the reporting of malpractice generally but bribery is clearly covered.
If any employee simply wishes to discuss any aspect of the policy he or she should feel free to contact at any time the relevant Head of Department, a member of the Executive, General Counsel or Head of Human Resources.
Should any employee be approached by any person in circumstances where it is clear that a bribe is being offered to, or required of, such employee, then in these circumstances it will be expected that such employee will of course decline the offer and notify a member of the Executive as to what has occurred.