Commentary

April 11, 2014

Gifts between employees

Staff Sgt Nicole S. Igoa
U.S. Air Force Warfare Center Judge Advocate

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — As the summer permanent change of station season approaches, it is important all Department of Defense employees understand the ethics rules on gifts between employees.

Oftentimes, a gift will be given to show appreciation to a departing individual. Although these gifts are common practice, there are applicable regulations that control their offering and acceptance.

Generally, an employee may not give a gift, contribute toward a gift, or solicit for a gift to a supervisor. Additionally, an employee may not accept a gift from a subordinate. However, some exceptions exist, and this article covers one of these exceptions.

A subordinate may voluntarily offer a gift for any unique, irregular occasion such as a PCS, retirement, birth of a child, or a marriage. On these occasions, subordinates may provide a gift to their superior provided the gift is appropriate for the occasion.

Group gifts are common and have specific limitations. The overall value of the group gift must not exceed $300, regardless of the number of individuals contributing.

If employees solicit donations, the contributions must be voluntary with a $10 limit per individual. Additionally, contract employees cannot be solicited.

The $10 limit does not include the cost of food, refreshments, and entertainment provided for the event at which a gift is given. For example, it would be okay to spend $300 on the gift and $200 on food.

There is no limit on how many groups can donate; however, if multiple groups donate towards a gift for the same individual, the value of the gift together must not exceed $300 if the same subordinate is a member of more than one contributing group; for example, if one group gives a set of golf clubs and a second group gives a golf bag, the total value of the gifts must remain below $300 if a subordinate is a member of both groups. A gift to a spouse is also considered as a gift to a superior and the same rules apply.

Failure to observe these rules could lead to criminal sanctions. Under the Joint Ethics Regulation, DOD 5500.07-R, “failure to comply may result in criminal, civil, and administrative sanctions for current DOD employees, including punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for military members subject to the UCMJ.”

As PCS season approaches this year, make sure to abide by the applicable ethical rules when giving or receiving gifts from fellow employees.

If you have any questions, contact the legal office at DSN 682-5407 or commercial (702) 652-5407.




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