Project managment

Gifts and hospitality

At Christmas – and other festive occasions – cheerful visitors may appear at the door of the RE’s office, wishing him and his staff the season’s greetings and perhaps extending some gifts. Politely but firmly, without giving offence, the good wishes may be accepted but not the gifts. No doubt the gift is innocently intended: the contractor or an ‘approved’ sub-contractor or supplier may be well pleased at the treatment he has received and wants to express his gratitude. But the engineer and all his staff occupy a position of trust in which all parties involved in a contract – the employer, the contractor, his suppliers and sub-contractors – expect to get fair treatment. To accept a gift from any of  them, or any kind of pecuniary favour, might put in doubt the claim of the engineer and his staff to be impartial. It could be disastrous for the RE (and for the contractor) if, having to give evidence on some unhappy dispute arising under the contract, the RE has to admit under questioning he accepted gifts from a contractor.
The question of accepting hospitality is a different matter. It is uncivil to refuse all invitations of this kind; courtesy demands that on the right occasion hospitality should be accepted, and returned. The RE’s common sense should tell him when it is right, such as when a triumph on a job is to be celebrated;
when personnel depart from the job; or when troubles on the site need to be discussed in an ‘off-the-job’ atmosphere. As long as the giving and receiving of hospitality is conducted reasonably, these actions do much to promote friendly co-operation on the site for the benefit of the job.

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