Know rules regarding gifts between employees

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. John Locke
  • 354th Fighter Wing Judge Advocate
Moving season is quickly approaching, folks often want to show appreciation to departing leaders, coworkers and subordinates with parting gifts.

Following some simple rules on gift giving will avoid trouble and prevent embarrassment as well. These rules apply to gifts exchanged between Department of Defense personnel, active duty and DOD civilians, and restrict the gifts that can be given to superiors, as well as the gifts that may be accepted from individuals that one out ranks.

To clarify, a gift is anything of monetary value, such as cash, meals, paperweights, trips, concert tickets and services. Items that do not rise to the level of a gift include small items like a cup of coffee, refreshments that are not part of a meal and items of little intrinsic value such as greeting cards, small plaques and certificates.

Care should be taken when giving gifts to someone of a higher rank, especially for those in a person's direct rating chain of command. Gifts to people that of higher rank are generally limited to $10 and may only be given at times when gifts are traditionally exchanged. On special occasions, like going aways, give gifts worth more than $10 are acceptable.

Remember that when collecting money to purchase the going away gift, no one can be asked to give more than $10. Even more important than that is to ensure that each person being asked to contribute to the gift is made aware that they are not obliged to donate and can give any amount they choose, to include nothing. Gifts for these special occasions may not be worth more than $300. If more than $300 is collected, save the extra for the next special occasion.

The same rules apply for retirement gifts that apply to the special occasion gifts above with the added note that while gifts may not exceed $300, that limit is per "donating group" and more than one "donating group" may give a gift. Also, the cost of food, refreshments and entertainment at the retirement party are not included in the $300 per gift limit.

Remember, no one can be coerced into donating, no one can be asked to give more than $10 and the decision to contribute must be voluntary.

These rules do not apply to gifts between good friends. In that case, even if that person is of a higher grade, exchanging gifts of any value at any time is acceptable (as long as the friend is not in the person's official reporting chain of command).