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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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News: Bribery Act awareness suffers north-south divide

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Just under half of UK employers have not heard of the Bribery Act, with manufacturing and automotive firms in the north of England being particularly unaware.

A survey conducted among 50 procurement managers by the Fraud, Investigations and Disputes Services team at management consultancy Ernst & Young revealed that a mere 56% had heard of the legislation, which came into force in July 2011.
 
Large companies with turnover of more than £50 million were the most familiar with it (76%), but the figure dropped to more like 64% among mid-market organisations with sales of between £5 and £50 million.
 
John Smart, a partner at Ernst & Young, said that the Act has been around for more than a year and so it was concerning that so many firms still did not know what it was and what it meant for them.
 
“We shouldn’t need to wait for a company to be fined under the Act before we are spurred into taking the appropriate precautions to manage bribery risk,” he added.
 
The worst offenders were in the North of England, where a huge 78% said that they were unaware of the legislation compared with only 33% in Scotland and 28% in the South of England. Some 53% of manufacturing companies were in similar ignorance as were three quarters of automotive firms, however.
 
Of those organisations that had heard of the Act, meanwhile, only 52% vetted their suppliers to check that they complied with its strictures too.
 
“It seems that firms are either underestimating bribery risk, don’t feel sufficiently educated to give their staff adequate guidance, or are failing to see the urgency in ensuring that their organisations and their suppliers are Bribery Act-compliant,” Smart said.
 
But it was imperative that they ramped up their compliance procedures to ensure that clear anti-bribery policies were in place across the business and its supply chain and that relevant staff received adequate training, he added.
 
 
 
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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