When the holiday season is upon us, employees must be mindful of their ethics obligations regarding the acceptance of gifts, including entertainment and attendance at certain widely attended gatherings.
In all cases, you must exercise good judgment before accepting food, refreshment, entertainment or any other gift during the holiday season. It is always possible to decline a gift, and you are encouraged to carefully consider every situation.
The general rule on gifts is that you cannot accept gifts from a prohibited source, or from a person or entity offering the gift because of your position. A "gift" includes food, refreshments, entertainment or any other thing of value. A "prohibited source" includes any person or entity seeking or doing business with the FLRA. As the holidays approach, it is important to keep this rule in mind. But it is also important to understand certain exceptions to the rule that may apply.
With certain limitations, the general rule against accepting gifts does not apply to modest items of food, refreshments, and entertainment. Generally, you may accept a gift from a prohibited source, provided the gift does not exceed $20 in value per occasion, and the aggregate value of such gifts from any one source does not exceed $50 in a calendar year. For example, it is usually appropriate for you to attend a holiday party hosted by a prohibited source and accept a meal, food, drinks and other entertainment with a combined maximum value of $20 or less. If the value is over $20, you should decline or pay the full value of the gift.
Another exception relates to official attendance and participation in "certain widely attended gatherings" hosted by prohibited sources. Under the Standards of Conduct, "widely attended gatherings" are specific types of events which, for example, are open to members throughout a given industry or profession, or which are attended by a wide range of persons with mutual interests in a given matter.
You may attend a widely attended gathering only when there has been an advance determination by an FLRA ethics official, in consultation with other appropriate FLRA officials, that your attendance would further specific interests related to the FLRA’s programs and operations. If you plan to attend a widely-attended gathering, please contact your DAEO or Alternate DAEO as soon as possible.