It’s great to be appreciated when you perform good work. In private industry, it’s sometimes customary to show that appreciation by providing gratuities, gifts, or other tokens of appreciation for a job well done. Public employees, however, operate under a different standard. We can’t have anyone believe that how we do our jobs is affected by any expectation of a reward other than the tax dollars that pay us.
Section 10-105 of the City Charter flatly prohibits any paid City official or employee from soliciting or accepting any gratuity – money or otherwise – for any “act or omission in the course of his work.” In other words, there is no such thing as a “tip” or even a “holiday gift,” when it’s offered because of your City employment. You must decline these offers, no matter how well-intended. If pressed by a well-meaning and grateful citizen to accept a token of appreciation for a job well done, you might explain, as you decline the token, that accepting the token would get you in trouble and suggest that the citizen instead write a note of appreciation to your supervisor.
If you suspect that someone is offering something intended as a bribe, promptly contact the Inspector General’s Office at 215-686-2178 or Amy.Kurland@phila.gov.
IntegrityWorks offers guidance for commonly-occurring situations. These are not the only situations in which ethics rules would apply; they are simply the most common ones. Other guidance may be added to this site as situations warrant.
These are general guidelines. Because each situation presents its own set of facts, this general guidance isn’t advice on which you can legally rely. If you want to be absolutely sure that your conduct complies with applicable ethics laws, you should seek advice before taking action.