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a 50th birthday, wedding), the general rule is that subordinates can't give a gift to their official superiors (a.k.a. bosses). Although the Gifts Executive Order (“EO”) ...
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ASK Is it from prohibited source?

ASK Is it a cash gift? FYI: Never take cash gifts from prohibited sources. Report immediately to the Inspector General.

ENJOY The gift!

JUST SAY NO! Return gift or pay in full within 3 days with a note to donor and copies to Ethics Board, Chief Integrity Officer, Inspector General, and your direct supervisor.

ASK

ENJOY

Is there an exception that applies?

You may need to get special approval if it’s a “Gift to the City.”

The gift!

Things like: invitations, food, drinks, travel or lodging given to or for the benefit of a City employee unless the employee pays the full value of the gift. Political contributions, commercially reasonable loans (think, home mortgage) or gifts received from a close family member are not considered gifts. Yes, but only if it’s a gift of a nominal value that is given in the context of a holiday party, for example, where the exchange of gifts is customary. But unless you are invited to a celebration of a major life event for your boss (e.g., a 50th birthday, wedding), the general rule is that subordinates can’t give a gift to their official superiors (a.k.a. bosses). Although the Gifts Executive Order (“EO”) doesn’t define “nominal value,” our office interprets this to be a gift of somewhere in the $10-$20 range. (By way of comparison, the limit for federal employees under the U.S. Government’s gift rules is $10.) You’re thinking about the rule that allows subordinates to give their bosses gifts of up to $99 in the aggregate per calendar year on occasions that are major life events (e.g., weddings, births, major birthdays or anniversaries) or that terminate the subordinate-boss relationship. An annual holiday is not a major life event. Nice thought, but cash gifts from prohibited sources (that’s what you are to your boss) – including gift cards and gift certificates – are not permitted under the EO. (Ditto under the federal rules.)

While your boss can give you a monetary gift under the EO since they are not a prohibited source to you, these gifts should be limited to things such as gift cards or gift certificates and not be overly extravagant. Providing expensive gifts to certain employees could send a message to other employees in the department that they are not equally valued. It can generate hurt feelings and create tension in the office. Whatever you call it, the answer is yes! It’s an easy way to handle intra-office holiday gift-exchanges, and it can save you a lot of money. Remember: These exchanges must be totally voluntary. No one in the office should be forced to participate. Of course, and voluntary monetary contributions of a nominal amount can be solicited. Again, no one should be forced to contribute. To avoid this, bosses should not do the asking (or employees may feel pressured to contribute). And, anyone can bring in baked goods or goodies to share with their colleagues. Personal hospitality provided at your home is fine, as long as the event is of a type and value customarily provided to guests at such events. In other words, don’t serve your boss vintage wine and your guests the cheapest alcohol you can find. Technically yes, the $10-$20 limit does not apply to gifts from official superiors to their subordinates. (The federal rules say the same.) But, we again warn against perception issues for bosses if they are providing expensive gifts to only one employee. Contact the Chief Integrity Officer at [email protected] or 215-686-2178 or 215-686-2120. Please ask for advice before accepting a gift.