Business Ethics Policy
Employees should be aware that if they identify or suspect fraud, corruption, theft or any unethical business practices in the workplace they should feel able and prepared to share their concerns within the Company.
PEAK has a whistleblowing policy (detailed in section 7 of this document), which outlines our duty to protect and support employees who raise legitimate concerns over illegal or unethical behaviour.
The policy enables all employees to raise these concerns without fear of suffering any discrimination or victimisation as a result of the whistleblowing action.
Personal Relationships at Work and Conflicts of Interest
While PEAK entirely respects the right of every one of us to form friendships and personal relationships at work, there will be occasions when it will be appropriate to tell your manager about a relationship that may impact on your work by creating a conflict of interest.
Any employee who is involved in a close personal relationship with a colleague, contractor, client, customer or supplier must not allow that relationship to influence their conduct while at work.
Here are some examples of when it would be appropriate to notify your manager of a potential conflict of interest:
- Any close relationship between a manager/supervisor and an employee whom they supervise, should be declared to a senior manager
- If you have or begin a close personal relationship with a client, customer, contractor or supplier and your job affords you any authority over them (e.g. if you have authority to decide to whom to award contracts), the relationship must be declared to your manager
It is your responsibility to identify when it is appropriate to inform your manager of any relationship or association that has the potential to create a conflict of interest.
It is always better to raise and discuss a potential conflict situation, as you may not be able to see that your judgement has been affected. Asking your manager to help you make a judgement will assist in ensuring that your position is viewed objectively.
Bribery, Corruption & Facilitation Payments
In accordance with the Bribery Act 2010, PEAK is committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct and integrity in its business activities in the UK and overseas. PEAK will not tolerate any form of bribery by, or of, its employees, agents or consultants or any person or body acting on its behalf.
Employees or associated persons who report instances of bribery in good faith will be supported by the Company. PEAK will ensure that no individual is subjected to detrimental treatment as a consequence of their report.
PEAK will fully investigate any instances of alleged or suspected bribery. Employees suspected of bribery may be suspended from their duties while the investigation is being carried out. PEAK will invoke its disciplinary procedures where any employee is suspected of bribery, and proven allegations may result in a finding of gross misconduct and immediate dismissal.
PEAK will also terminate the contracts of any associated persons, including consultants or other agents who act for, or on behalf of, the Company who are found to have breached this policy.
a) What is prohibited?
You must never offer or accept any bribe or inducement which may inappropriately influence, or appear to inappropriately influence, your actions.
The bribe might be cash, a gift or other inducement to, or from, any person or organisation, whether a public or government official, official of a state-controlled industry, political party or a private person or organisation, regardless of whether the employee or associated person is situated in the UK or overseas.
This prohibition also applies to indirect contributions, payments or gifts made in any manner as an inducement or reward for improper performance, for example through consultants, contractors, agents, sponsors, joint-venture partners, customers, suppliers or other third parties.
Nor must you misuse your position within the Company, or the information you gather in the course of your duties, to further your private interests or those of anyone else.
b) Keeping Records
Employees and any agents or sub-contractors of the Company, are required to take particular care to ensure that all PEAK records are accurately maintained in relation to any contracts or business activities, including financial invoices and all payment transactions with clients, suppliers and public officials.
Due diligence should be undertaken by employees and associated persons prior to entering into any contract, arrangement or relationship with a potential supplier of services, agent, consultant or representative.
Employees and associated persons are required to keep accurate, detailed and up-to-date records of all corporate hospitality, entertainment or gifts accepted or offered.
c) Working Overseas
Employees and associated persons conducting business on behalf of PEAK outside the UK may be at greater risk of being exposed to bribery or unethical business conduct than UK-based employees. Employees and associated persons owe a duty to PEAK to be extra vigilant when conducting international business.
Employees and associated persons are required to cooperate with PEAK’s risk management procedures and to report suspicions of bribery to their line manager. While any suspicious circumstances should be reported, employees and associated persons are required particularly to report:
- Close family, personal or business ties that a prospective agent, representative or joint-venture partner may have with government or corporate officials, directors or employees
- any history of corruption in the country in which the business is being undertaken
- Requests for cash payments, or unusual payment arrangements, for example via a third party
- Requests for reimbursements of unsubstantiated or unusual expenses
- A lack of standard invoices and proper financial practices
If an employee or associated person is in any doubt as to whether or not a potential act constitutes bribery, the matter should be referred to their line manager or Human Resources.
d) Facilitation Payments
Facilitation payments are payments that are made to speed up the performance of duties which public or private officials are already bound to perform and are more common in some countries than others. In general, you must not make facilitation payments when requested by public officials or any other individual (for instance when travelling abroad for business purposes) as they are considered illegal under UK law.
Where a public official has requested a payment, employees or associated persons should ask for further details of the purpose and nature of the payment in writing. If the public official refuses to give these, this should be reported immediately to their line manager.
If the public official provides written details, the line manager or Human Resources will consider the nature of the payment. Local legal advice may be sought by PEAK. If it is concluded that the payment is a legitimate fee, for example part of a genuine fast-track process, or is permitted locally, PEAK will authorize the employee to make the payment.
Where their line manager considers that the request is for a facilitation payment, the employee or associated person will be instructed to refuse to make the payment and notify the public official that the employee or associated person is required to report the matter to the organisation and the UK embassy.
However, an exception to this is if a situation arises where you fear that you (or others in your party) are at risk of life, limb or injury, you should make the payment without hesitation. If such a situation arises then you must ensure that the payment is discussed with your manager after the event and reported to Human Resources.
Gifts and Hospitality
On occasion you may find yourself in the situation that gifts or hospitality could be received from, or offered to, customers, suppliers and other business contacts. Gifts and hospitality must be reasonable and proportionate given the business that we do. Lavish or excessive gifts and hospitality, given or received, may be considered as intent to induce improper behaviour to the advantage of the Company.
Where entertaining is essential to your role, you may be authorised by your manager to offer or accept hospitality. If you are offering hospitality, you must operate within your approved budget.
If you are offering, or accepting, hospitality you must adhere to the guidelines detailed in this policy.
a) Hospitality and Promotional Expenditure
Employees and, where relevant, associated persons should submit requests for proposed hospitality and promotional expenditure well in advance of proposed dates to the approving senior manager in their department.
Employees are required to set out in writing:
- The objective of the proposed client entertainment or expenditure
- The identity of those who will be attending
- The organisation that they represent
- Details of, and rationale for, the proposed activity
PEAK will approve business entertainment proposals only if they demonstrate a clear business objective and are appropriate for the nature of the business relationship. The Company will not approve business entertainment where it considers that a conflict of interest may arise or where it could be perceived that undue influence or a particular business benefit was being sought (e.g. prior to a tendering exercise).
Any rewards or entertainment received or offered from clients, public officials, suppliers or other business contacts should be reported immediately to the employee’s line manager. In certain circumstances, it may not be appropriate to be provided with the entertainment and employees and associated persons may be asked to refuse the entertainment, for example where there could be a real or perceived conflict of interest.
Gifts, such as promotional items like a diary or pen, or small gifts worth less than GBP£20 (flowers, chocolates etc.), can be accepted from actual or potential customers or suppliers. Other gifts cannot be accepted without approval from your manager. To avoid causing offence, you should explain to the person offering the gift that you are bound by PEAK’s policy on accepting gifts.
If an employee or associated person wishes to provide gifts to suppliers, clients or other business contacts, prior written approval from their line manager is required, together with details of the intended recipients, reasons for the gift and business objective. These will be authorised only in limited circumstances and will generally be subject to a cap of GBP£50 per recipient.
Employees and, where applicable, associated persons must supply records and receipts for any gifts purchased, in accordance with PEAK Expenses policy.
Competition Law Compliance
The purpose of competition law is to preserve free, fair and efficient competition for the benefit of our clients and all companies operating in our industry
It is PEAK’s policy to compete vigorously and fairly. Acting in compliance with competition law is a fundamental part of our business in every region in which we operate.
The consequences of breaching competition law are severe, and potential penalties can include:
- Significant fines on the Company
- Criminal prosecution of Directors/employees, which may result in fines and/or imprisonment
- Risk of legal actions for compensation
- Contracts being declared unenforceable
- The Company being prohibited from participation in public tenders
- Expensive and lengthy investigations
- Director disqualification/dismissal of employees
- PR impact/reputational damage
This means making sure that all employees must understand what the law requires so that they will always act in accordance with the principles of fair competition and do not engage in conduct which is anti-competitive. Any arrangements with competitors, including informal understandings and “gentlemen's agreements”, will be illegal if they infringe competition law.
Employees should always ensure that they do NOT:
- Engage in any discussions, or exchange commercial information, with competitors which would suggest that PEAK would ever seek to limit competition through price fixing, bid rigging, limiting production or sharing customers or markets
- Put suppliers or customers under pressure to provide information about competitors or operate in any way that restricts fair competition
- Discuss a PEAK customer’s dealings or business terms with any other customer, or make any commitments to one customer as to PEAK’s treatment of other customers
Employees should not participate in meetings with competitors at which competitive conditions are discussed or where you believe the discussions or actions are risky in competition law terms. Leave the meeting as soon as possible and make sure that this is noted or a minute taken of your actions. Inform your line manager as to what has happened as soon as possible.
PEAK will not tolerate fraud, corruption or theft by its employees, customers or anyone working on behalf of the Company. Should any allegation of fraud, corruption or theft be substantiated, the Company will thoroughly investigate the case and disciplinary action will be taken where appropriate.
The Company reserves the right to report any criminal offences to appropriate legal authorities.
PEAK is committed to being fully compliant with the provisions of the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and anti-terrorism laws.
We conduct due diligence enquiries on all new clients to establish and verify our clients’ identity and the identity of any beneficial owners. We may also undertake such enquiries on anyone instructing us on behalf of, but who may not be our clients. We will not act if sufficient information is not provided.
We will report to the National Crime Agency and other relevant authorities any suspicion or knowledge regarding money laundering or the proceeds of crime.
As an employee of PEAK, you must therefore report to your manager if you have a reasonable suspicion that a customer relationship is being established or operated in relation to money laundering, fraud
PEAK has a zero-tolerance approach to modern slavery. We are committed to acting in an ethical manner, with integrity and transparency in all business dealings. We are committed to creating effective systems and have controls in place to safeguard against any form of modern slavery taking place within the business or our supply chain.
PEAK maintains a preferred supplier list. We conduct due diligence on all suppliers before allowing them to become a preferred supplier. Due diligence includes regular meetings with partners and stakeholders, and online research to ensure that the organisation has never been convicted of offences relating to modern slavery.
Our anti-slavery policy forms part of our contract with all suppliers and they are required to confirm that no part of their business operations contradicts this policy.
In addition to the above, as part of our contract with suppliers, we require they confirm to us that:
- They have taken steps to eradicate modern slavery within their business.
- They hold their own suppliers to account over modern slavery.
- They pay their employees at least the national minimum wage - for UK-based suppliers.
- They pay their employees any prevailing minimum wage applicable within their country of operations. – for international suppliers.
- We may terminate the contract at any time should any instances of modern slavery emerge.
It is important to PEAK that any fraud, misconduct or wrongdoing by employees or officers of the Company is reported and properly dealt with. The Company therefore encourages you to raise any concerns that you may have about the conduct of others in the business, or the way in which the business is run.
The law provides full protection for workers who raise legitimate concerns about specified matters, known as “qualifying disclosures”.
A qualifying disclosure is one made in the public interest by an employee who has a reasonable belief that any of the following is being, has been, or is likely to be, committed:
- A criminal offence
- A miscarriage of justice
- An act creating risk to health and safety
- An act causing damage to the environment
- A breach of any other legal obligation
- Concealment of any of the above
It is not necessary for the employee to have proof that such an act is being, has been, or is likely to be, committed – a reasonable belief is sufficient. The worker has no responsibility for investigating the matter – it is PEAK’s responsibility to ensure than an investigation takes place.
An employee who makes such a protected disclosure has the right not to be dismissed, subjected to any other detriment, or victimised, because they have made a disclosure.
In the first instance, any concerns should be raised with your line manager. If you feel uncomfortable approaching your line manager for any reason, you should speak with the Group HR Manager.
Should you report any questionable behaviour or business practices you feel may be unethical, we promise that we will thoroughly investigate your concerns without fear of victimisation, discrimination or other detriment.
If an employee reasonably believes that, following investigation by the Company, the appropriate action has not been taken, they should report the matter to the proper authority.
There are a number of bodies to which qualifying disclosures may be made, and include:
- The Competition and Markets Authority
- The Health and Safety Executive
- The Environmental Agency
- The Independent Police Complaints Commission
- The Serious Fraud Office
- Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs