By Melanie Dawson, Marketing Co-ordinator, Sage UK Ltd

Bribery Act? Why should small to medium-sized businesses care about the Bribery Act? That’s the kind of thing only multi-national finance corporations and arms manufacturers worry about, isn’t it?

Not anymore.

From 1 July 2011, every company that has some presence in the UK must now adhere to the Bribery Act to help stamp corruption out of business.

The Ministry of Justice has published some guidance, but we’ve collated the main points here.

Let’s get down to brass tacks

What do you need to know? Well firstly, there are now four new criminal offences:

- Being bribed

- Bribing another

- Bribing a foreign official

- Failing to prevent bribery

What you actually need to do depends on your type of business and where you trade.

For instance, if your business could be seen to be open to potential acts of bribery, you should probably put strict policies and procedures in place to eliminate any doubt.
If it’s very unlikely that bribery could happen in your company, then drawing up and communicating one simple policy to your employees could be enough.

The key thing is that you can show that you have taken adequate steps to prevent acts of bribery from taking place. If a bribery claim is made against you, these steps can help your defence.

Will this change the way you do business?

Probably not. Things like corporate hospitality aren’t affected by the Act, as long as they are proportionate and reasonable.

There have been a few hyped-up scare stories in the media, but if you’re doing nothing wrong, you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Sage People Advice: For help with any areas of HR, Employment Law and Health and Safety for your business, contact our Sage People Advice team on 0845 111 2450.

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