Commercial companies are to receive guidance on how to properly deal with and prevent bribery, should it ever occur within the workplace.

The government has begun to outline plans on appropriate procedures that should be put in place to help protect and prevent companies against bribery.

The Bribery Act 2010, is due to come into force next April, introduces a corporate offence of failure to prevent bribery by anyone working on behalf of a business.

Companies can be held liable, if it can be proved that a bribe was issued on a companies behalf with the intention to obtain or retain business

Companies and directors that are found guilty of corporate bribery could face harsh penalties including fines. However, a company will be able to avoid conviction if they have adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery.

The legislation was originally meant to come into force in October, but was postponed for six months. In July, Personnel Today reported that the Government’s decision to delay the introduction of the Bribery Act had been described as “extremely disappointing” by anti-corruption campaigners.
The Act provides for four bribery offences:
• Bribing – the offering, promising or giving of an advantage.
• Being bribed – requesting, agreeing to receive or accepting an advantage.
• Bribing a foreign public official.
• The “corporate offence”, where a commercial organisation fails to prevent persons performing services on its behalf from committing bribery.

The Bribery Act 2010 will not change the disciplinary process that would need to be followed to investigate any alleged act of corruption before a disciplinary sanction is imposed, so if bribery takes place the company should follow its own procedure or fall back on the Acas code on disciplinary and grievance procedures.

The guidance, which the Government is obliged to provide under the Bribery Act 2010, will be published early next year. The consultation runs until 8 November.