How Getting into the Holiday Spirit Could Get You Fired — It’s a Ho, Ho, NO

‘Tis the season for Secret Santas, white elephant gifts, and good will toward men and women. But if you’re a federal employee, there’s a strict list of who it would be naughty to get a present from or give a present to.

John Mahoney is partner and chair of the federal sector at Tully Rinckey PLLC.

He told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program the do’s and don’ts of gifting.

Federal Scrooges — Why It’s Ok to be Cheap

  • Employee gifts to their supervisors can not exceed $10
  • Gifts between co-workers can not exceed $20
  • Feds cannot receive more than $50 in gifts in a given year

Mahoney says, “as a general rule of thumb, federal employees should refrain from accepting gifts from people who are considered “prohibited sources” or who want to give them something solely because their official position. A prohibited source, as defined by 5 CFR § 2635.203(d), is someone whose gift could create pose a conflict of interest if accepted, namely anyone who:”

  1. wants the employee’s agency to do something;
  2. has an existing or desired business with the employee’s agency;
  3. is regulated by the employee’s agency;
  4. could be impacted by the work the employee conducts; or
  5. is a member of an organization whose members are largely refrained from giving the gift to the employee for the above-stated reasons.

Gifting Could Get You Fired

“Federal employees have been terminated or harshly disciplined for receiving gifts and not properly and timely reporting and returning them,” said Mahoney.

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