GIFTS FROM AFRH RESIDENTS TO EMPLOYEES
GIFTS BETWEEN EMPLOYEES
The Standards of Ethical Conduct limit gifts between employees, particularly gifts to supervisors. The general rule is: an employee may not give - or make a donation toward - a gift for his or her supervisor. An employee's supervisor includes the employee's immediate supervisor as well as any other employees who direct or evaluate the employee's performance or the performance of any of the employee's supervisory superiors.
There are three basic exceptions to this rule:
- Employees may give - or voluntarily "chip in" for - food or refreshments to be shared in the office;
- An employee may give a gift to his or her supervisor on an occasional basis including recurring events when gifts are traditionally exchanged, such as birthdays and holidays, as long as the gift is not cash, and is worth $10 or less. Employees may not "chip in" to buy a group gift for these events; and
- An employee may give a supervisor a gift appropriate to the occasion for special, infrequent events, such as the birth of a child or marriage, and for occasions that end the supervisory relationship, such as retirement or reassignment. For these events, employees may "chip in" to buy a group gift as long as the individual contributions are a nominal amount and entirely voluntary.
May I, as a supervisor, collect money from my staff to have an office baby shower for another employee on my staff?
The purpose of these rules is to protect employees from feeling coerced into giving gifts, while permitting some limited, voluntary social exchange between employees. Thus, supervisors may not solicit gifts from those they supervise - even if the gift is for another employee (and certainly not for themselves or another supervisor). Someone on your staff will have to take the initiative to hold this event. Of course, you may, on your own, give your employee a baby gift.
Our supervisor's birthday is coming up. What can we do to celebrate this event?
Employees may bring - or collect voluntary contributions to buy - a cake and other refreshments to share in the office for a birthday party. It is not permissible, however, for the staff to collect money and "chip in" together to buy a birthday gift, although employees individually may give the supervisor a gift valued at $10 or less. Similarly, because a group gift is impermissible for this type of recurring event, it is not proper for the group to take the supervisor to a restaurant for lunch.
Our supervisor's husband has been very ill and was recently hospitalized. May the staff send him flowers?
An employee may directly or indirectly give a gift to a supervisor on special, infrequent occasions, such as a major illness. For these types of events, a group of employees may voluntarily "chip-in" nominal money contributions (e.g., less than $10) to purchase the flower arrangement, or an employee may send flowers on his or her own.
I travel at least once a month in my job. May I bring my supervisor an inexpensive souvenir from each of these trips?
Gifts between employees and supervisors are permitted on an occasional basis, including occasions when gifts are traditionally exchanged. This is much too frequent to be considered occasional.
I'm in charge of collecting money for a retirement gift for our office's supervisor. May I tell everyone on the staff that they should contribute $4 each for this gift?
Contributions must be voluntary. Thus, although an amount may be recommended, the recommendation must also indicate that employees are free to contribute less or nothing at all.
Most employees may earn outside income and engage in outside activities, subject only to the Federal conflict of interest statutes and the Standards of Ethical Conduct. Generally, employees may engage in any activities - paid or volunteer - as long as the activities do not require the employee to disqualify him or herself from duties central to his or her position within the Department. In addition, although complicated by a recent court decision and subject to an exception for teaching certain courses - in most circumstances, employees may not accept pay (including travel reimbursement) for teaching speaking, or writing related to the employee's duties.
Employees must obtain approval prior to:
Providing services, other than clerical, on behalf of any other person in connection with a matter in which the United States is a party or has a direct and substantial interest, or when the provision of services involves the preparation of materials for submission to, or representation before, a Federal court or executive branch agency; serving as an officer, director, trustee, general partner, agent, attorney, consultant, contractor, employee, advisory committee member, or active participant for a prohibited source; or teaching, speaking, writing, or consulting that relates to the employee's official duties. An exception permits employees to engage in many volunteer activities without obtaining prior approval, such as participating in: social, fraternal, civic, or political entity, a religious organization that is not a prohibited source; or a PTA or similar organization at the employee's child's school or day care center, other than as a member of the Board of Directors or other governing board of the school or center; or volunteering to tutor or provide direct social or medical services.
In addition, although complicated by a recent court decision and subject to an exception for teaching certain courses - in most circumstances, employees may not accept pay (including travel reimbursement) for teaching speaking, or writing related to the employee's duties. New content: In addition, although complicated by a recent court decision and subject to an exception for teaching certain courses. In most circumstances, employees may not accept pay (including travel reimbursement) for teaching speaking, or writing related to the employee's duties.
Under what circumstances would the Department deny my request to work part-time for an outside organization?
Denials are rare, but they do happen. For example, an employee sought approval to work part-time for a non-profit grantee of the Department. The employee's duties included monitoring the performance of the grantee, and her supervisor indicated that it was impossible to assign this project to a co-worker. The employee would be barred by law from doing her Department job if she took this part-time position. Therefore, the Department denied her request.
How can I tell whether a proposed outside activity is "related to my duties"?
The definition includes, among other things:
- activities undertaken as part of your official duties;
- offers extended to you because of your official position, and not because of your expertise;
- offers extended to you by a person or group that has interests that may be affected substantially by the performance of your duties;
- matters dealing in significant part with any matter to which you are currently assigned or have been assigned within the past year; or
- matters dealing in significant part with any ongoing policy, program, or operation of the Department.
Email the AFRH Ethics Office at email@example.com