Employment Controls

This section provides guidance in relation to the controls which an organisation should implement with a view to ensuring as far as reasonable that the organisation’s personnel will comply with the anti-corruption policy and programme (Measure 7 of the Anti-Corruption Programme for Organisations).

Organisations are at risk of incurring criminal and/or civil liability for corruption through the actions of their personnel (the organisation’s directors, officers, employees, staff or workers (whether full time or part time, permanent or temporary)). Similarly, personnel may, in the course of their employment, be required or encouraged by their employers to engage in corrupt transactions in order to win business or secure greater profit, or may be placed in circumstances where they are confronted with corruption. Involvement in corruption may involve criminal and civil liability for both the organisation and personnel. It may also result in irreparable damage to the reputation and respective business and employment prospects of the organisation or personnel. It is, therefore, important for the organisation to ensure as far as reasonable that the organisation’s personnel will comply with the anti-corruption policy and programme. However, it is also important from the perspective of personnel that they work for organisations which are ethical, and which do not pressurise the personnel to act corruptly, and which protect personnel who take steps to avoid corruption or report corruption.

The following recommendations relate to any personnel who may, in the course of their employment, be exposed or vulnerable to corruption.

Vetting of personnel

Potential personnel who could pose a more than low corruption risk to the organisation should be vetted before they are employed to ascertain as far as is reasonable that their employment is appropriate and that they are the type of person who is likely to comply with the organisation’s anti-corruption policy and programme.  The organisation’s personnel who have responsibility for decision making in relation to business associates are particularly vulnerable to corruption, e.g. personnel who work in relation to any of the following:  tendering for work or services; awarding contracts to sub-contractors and suppliers; project management; approval of works, materials and services; and the certification and payment of contractors, consultants, sub-contractors and suppliers.

This vetting could include actions such as:

  • Discuss the organisation’s anti-corruption policy with prospective personnel at interview, and assess whether they appear to understand it, and accept the importance of compliance with it, and understand how this may impact on their potential role in the organisation.
  • Verify the identity of personnel, and their right to work in the relevant country, by checking the personnel’s passport and driving licence and, if applicable, visa or work permit.
  • Take reasonable steps to verify that personnel qualifications are accurate.  Prospective personnel should provide relevant information to the organisation on their qualifications (e.g. copies of degree certificates or other qualifications).  The organisation should check that prospective personnel qualifications are correctly stated (e.g. with the relevant university or college).
  • Take reasonable steps to obtain satisfactory references from the previous employers of prospective personnel.  References should be requested in writing.  In relation to senior or higher risk appointments,  the organisation should speak on the telephone to the previous employers of personnel to try to ascertain as far as reasonable that the personnel did do the job which the personnel claimed to have done, and were trusted by the previous employer.  Previous employers may be reluctant to provide this information in writing for fear of being sued if the information is incorrect.  However, people tend to provide information more freely orally than in writing.  If the personnel left the previous employer in controversial circumstances, the previous employer may explain this over the telephone.  Alternatively the previous employer may appear unwilling to provide any information on the personnel or may sound evasive on the detail, which can in itself provide a clue to a previous difficulty.  Obviously, a problem with a previous employer may be the fault of the employer, and not the personnel, so judgement needs to be exercised.  The important point is to find out as much information on the personnel as possible so that you can make a reasoned judgment on the integrity and suitability of the prospective personnel for the new post.
  • For personnel who could be handling cash or have financial or payment responsibilities, criminal record and credit checks should be carried out as far as possible to ensure that they have not got any previous convictions for dishonesty, and have not fallen into unsustainable debt or debt default (which could encourage them to act dishonestly).
  • In relation to the employment of ex-government personnel, the organisation should comply with any relevant government regulations.  These may include, for example, a period where the personnel cannot work in areas connected with the previous employer’s business.
  • The organisation should ensure that the employment of the new personnel could not in itself be corrupt, or be perceived to be corrupt.  For example, the organisation must not offer employment to any personnel:
    • in return for that personnel having, in the personnel’s previous employment, improperly favoured the organisation; or
    • in order that the new personnel can secure improper favourable treatment for the organisation.

Conditions of appointment

The employment contract, or document containing the conditions of appointment of personnel, should contain the following provisions (or provisions of equivalent effect):

  • A commitment from personnel to comply with the organisation’s anti-corruption policy and programme.
  • A provision allowing the organisation to take appropriate disciplinary action against personnel in the event that they participate in any corrupt act, or breach the organisation’s anti-corruption policy or programme.  See below for disciplinary procedures.

Induction / informing personnel

As soon as new personnel join the organisation, steps should be taken to ensure that the personnel are aware of the organisation’s anti-corruption policy, and understand how to comply with it.  The personnel should be given a copy of the anti-corruption policy, either in hard copy or electronically.  In relation to personnel who could pose a more than low corruption risk to the organisation, an appropriate manager of the organisation should have a personal meeting with the new personnel at which the manager explains to the new personnel:

  • the importance of complying with the anti-corruption policy
  • the anti-corruption  procedures relevant to the personnel’s line of work
  • how the personnel can report any actual or suspected corruption or issue which may give rise to corruption.

Upon complete of the induction, the manager needs to be satisfied that the personnel understand and accept the importance of compliance.

The personnel should sign a declaration that the personnel have received a copy of the policy, have read it and understand it, and will comply with it (see sample Compliance Declaration and Measure 4 (Communication) of the Anti-Corruption Programme.

In addition, personnel who could pose a more than low corruption risk to the organisation should as soon as possible after joining the organisation, be provided with appropriate training by the organisation (see Measure 8 (Training) of the Anti-Corruption Programme).

Conflict of interest

Personnel should be required to declare any actual or potential conflict of interest to relevant management, and should record this on a register which the organisation keeps for that purpose.  A conflict of interest may include, for example, an ownership interest which the personnel or a member of the personnel’s family has in one of the organisation’s clients or suppliers.   

If any personnel do have a conflict of interest (e.g. with a client or supplier), the personnel should not normally be permitted to have any management involvement in decisions in relation to the organisation’s dealing with that client or supplier. 

Some conflicts of interest are too remote to have any actual impact.  For example, personnel may, through a pension fund, hold a relatively small number of shares in a publicly listed company with which the organisation does business.  This type of remote minority ownership is very unlikely in practice to lead to the personnel making any inappropriate arrangement with that other organisation so would normally be exempt from the organisation’s conflict policies.


The organisation should ensure that personnel have the necessary competence to undertake the responsibilities entrusted to them, based on their experience and / or training.  The organisation should take necessary steps to enhance personnel competence through mentoring, guidance and / or training.

Disciplinary procedures

The organisation should have disciplinary procedures which entitle it to take appropriate disciplinary action against personnel who commit a corrupt act, or who breach the organisation’s anti-corruption policy or programme.  The disciplinary procedures should provide for an investigation by the organisation which investigates, as far as reasonable, all the circumstances of the case, and which gives the personnel an adequate and fair opportunity to explain the personnel’s position.  Any penalty applied to personnel under the procedures should be reasonable and proportionate to the relevant act.  A minor breach of a procedure may lead to a warning and some additional training.  A major breach may lead to dismissal.  See conditions of appointment above.

No wrongful penalisation 

Personnel must not be penalised (e.g. by demotion, disciplinary action, transfer or dismissal) for refusing to participate in, or for turning down, a business opportunity in respect of which they have reasonably and in good faith judged there to be an unacceptable risk of corruption.   Nor should any personnel be penalised for reporting in good faith any actual or suspected corruption.

Bonuses and targets

Performance bonuses, performance targets and other incentivising elements of remuneration should be reviewed regularly by an appropriate manager to ensure that there are reasonable safeguards to prevent these from encouraging corruption.

Some types of performance bonuses or targets can encourage corruption. For example, a bonus related to the winning of a contract or to the number or value of contracts placed may encourage personnel to pay bribes to win contracts or to turn a blind eye to corruption in relation to the contracts placed.  Equally, a bonus, incentive or target related to cash-flow may encourage personnel to invoice for work not done, or not to approve payments due to suppliers.  Consequently, if an employer wishes to provide bonuses, incentives or targets which relate to performance:

  • The employer should avoid bonus arrangements which could encourage the personnel to engage in corrupt activities with a view to enhancing a bonus or receiving an incentive, or meeting a target;
  • The employer should introduce a factor into the bonus, incentive or target arrangements which takes account of or rewards the personnel for ethical activity such as avoiding corrupt contracts.

Implementation checklist for Measure 7

  1. The organisation should appoint an appropriate manager with responsibility for implementing these employment controls.  In most cases, this will be the personnel / human resources manager.
  2. The manager should assess the compliance of the organisation’s existing employment controls with the recommendations specified above, and enhance the organisation’s controls to the extent that they do not already comply. 
  3. The organisation should document and implement the employment controls.
  4. The organisation should monitor and periodically audit that the employment controls are being correctly followed.

Updated on 10th April 2020