Let’s say you are working for the government and a businessman comes in with very important papers he needs to process. The atmosphere is relaxed and the businessman patiently waits for his papers to be processed. Since lunch is approaching, the businessman you are speaking to suggests a lunch together. You agree because you haven’t eaten for hours. After the waitress clears the empty plates, the businessman asks for the bill and offers to pay your own meal. You hesitate for a moment and thought about your action of accepting the lunch invitation is appropriate. Under no circumstances do you want to be suspected of being bribed, because you know that rumors like this can damage your career enormously.
Bribery and Corruption – The Bribery Act
Corruption can begin quite harmlessly
Corruption and bribery are unfortunately part of everyday life in many countries around the world. Accepting gifts by profession – politicians, civil servants, lawyers – many professional groups are suspected of being willing to do generous benefactors a favor, even if the applicable laws are not followed. In Switzerland, bribery is punished with a severe fine and in particularly serious cases, the perpetrators can even face a three-year prison sentence.
Politicians, doctors, lawyers, police officers, and all other civil servants must be particularly careful about the question of whether they can accept gifts. But many other professional groups should also remain vigilant because there is a risk of slowly sliding into corruption without the people affected noticing this immediately. Because: Of course, everyone finds it pleasant when customers and business partners appear friendly and are recognizable with a meal or a little attention for good service or competent advice. Without thinking about it, you might take more time for such people in the future than for other customers.
If in doubt, you should trust your manager
Bribery can be very subtle and does not always have to come in a big way. It is always difficult when someone wants to gain their own benefits with the help of gifts or a favor, and this happens quite often in professional life. There is always a certain political influence of the rich through gifts in any form and you don’t want to be tagged as one of those beneficiaries. You are therefore on the safe side if you politely but firmly refuse gifts or invitations from customers. Ideally, your employer will provide a guideline that you can follow. For example, this can be a maximum value that gifts from customers or business partners may have. Because it is common to give away a bottle of wine or a gift basket to business customers before Christmas, for example.
When you know what is allowed and what is not, it is not so easy for you to accidentally bribe yourself. If you are unsure whether you can accept a gift or not, speak openly to your boss. This way you will not be in need of explanation later.