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Gift Giving and Staff Functions

Category: Employment
Number: EMP-060-009
Audience: All University employees
Issued: November 14, 2012
Revised: October 17, 2018
Owner(s): AVP (Finance)
Approved by: VP (Administration)
Contact: Financial Analyst (Tax/Reporting) – 306-585-4053

Introduction

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that gift expenditures are made in a consistent and cost-effective manner that supports the institutional mission with a clear University business purpose and complies with the regulations set by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Policy

As a publicly funded institution, the University of Regina is accountable for the prudent and effective stewardship of University funds. The University recognizes that gifts, where the primary purpose relates to the business of the University, may, on occasion, be made in carrying out its teaching, research and service activities. This policy applies to all gifts, cash and non-cash. 

The CRA considers the entire value of gifts of cash and near-cash to be taxable benefits. The University does not allow gifts of cash or near-cash to be given to staff in order to avoid the complexity of assessing taxable benefits on such items. Rewards and incentives are always considered as taxable income by CRA and are therefore not referred to in this policy.  Awards are also not referred to in this policy as they are not considered as taxable income by CRA.

Information from the CRA related to employee gifts/awards can be found at:

Staff Gifts

Personal gifts are not an allowable University expenditure from any type of University Fund (e.g. operating budget, APEA, research, etc.). Birthday gifts, wedding gifts, baby shower gifts, Christmas gifts, memorial gifts, gifts to charitable organizations, greeting cards, flowers, etc. are all considered to be personal expenditures and should be paid for with personal funds.

Exceptions are made for gifts of nominal value ($100 or less) to employees or volunteers for recognition of service, long service and retirement farewells. The preference is for such exceptions to be charged to APEA funds. When a gift is charged to an APEA, it cannot be in the form of cash or near-cash under any circumstances due to CRA taxable benefit implications.

The maximum amount for a gift(s) in a calendar year is $500 per person.  Anything above $500 will be taxable.

The $100 nominal gift exception above is extended in the event of the death of a University employee or former employee or close family member thereof, or friend of the University. Often the surviving family members will request donations in lieu of memorial gifts. In such cases, donations are permitted to non-profit organizations on behalf of an individual in lieu of a sympathy gift. The donation from the faculty or department may not exceed $100 and may not use APEA funds.

If a memorial donation, flowers or other appropriate gift are sent in the event of the death or severe illness of a University employee or former employee or close family member thereof, or friend of the University, such gifts are limited to a single gift of $100 or less from the President, Vice-President, Dean or Associate Vice-President on behalf of the entire University.

Non-Staff Gifts

A non-staff gift is a modest token of appreciation to an external individual (student, visitor, volunteer, donor, host institution) in recognition of a contribution to the University. Non-staff gifts are generally not considered to be taxable benefits as they are not connected with employment services.  Non-staff gifts in the form of a gift card cannot be charged to an APEA. 

Reimbursement claim forms and procurement card monthly statements with supporting documentation must include a brief description of the gift and name of the recipient of the gift card.  In the case of confidential research study participants, names can be enclosed in a sealed envelope.

Gifts to recognize work for which the individual would normally be paid (via honoraria or a contract for service) are taxable and therefore not allowed.

Staff Functions – Lunches, Dinners, Entertainment

Staff functions are held to recognize the service of staff members and to support team building and positive morale levels.  Alcohol may be provided at special social events for employees such as holiday lunches, holiday parties, retirement parties and other social events and require prior approval of the department head.  Moderate consumption and price point should be the standard that is followed.  Employees are required to exercise sound judgment in this regard.  The cost of such functions is allowed to the extent that they are modest in size and frequency.  The preference is for such expenditures to be charged to APEA funds, although operating budgets may also be used if operating budget is available and the budget signing authority approves the expenditure. Please note that policy OPS-100-005 Food Services requires any use of University administered funds (including APEA funds) for staff lunches, dinners or entertainment held on campus must use University caterers.

Staff Meals – Working Lunches and Dinners

Whenever feasible, it is expected that meetings of University staff will occur during normal working hours.  Occasionally, it may be necessary to work during normal meal times with breakfast, lunch or dinner being provided.  If working though normal meal times is unavoidable, the cost of the meal is a valid charge against operating or APEA budgets.  If the meeting could have been held during normal working hours but a voluntary decision was made to hold the meeting over a meal, the cost of the meal can only be charged against an APEA budget.  If the meeting did not include University business, the cost of the meal is a personal expenditure which is to be paid for with personal funds.  Alcoholic beverages are not an allowable expenditure at working lunches or dinners. Please note that policy OPS-100-005 Food Services requires any use of University administered funds (including APEA funds) for staff lunches, dinners or entertainment held on campus must use University caterers.

Near-Cash Summary (i.e. gift cards and gift certificates)

Gift cards can never be given to employees of the University and gift cards can never be charged to an APEA.  The one exception is that Human Resources is permitted to give employees long service rewards in the form of gift certificates to the University of Regina Bookstore or MacKenzie Art Gallery of up to the limit permitted by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Consequences for Noncompliance

Any individual using University funds for gifts and functions over and above those allowed in this policy must repay these funds and may be subject to disciplinary action.

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