SMEs unprepared for UK Bribery Act
From the 1st July 2011, businesses across the UK will finally come under the remit of the new Bribery Act. With the changes coming into effect, research from business software and services provider Sage has revealed that nearly three quarters of small businesses (71%) do not understand what the Act is or how it is likely to affect the way they do business.
The Sage UK Omnibus surveyed 1,050 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from Sage’s 800,000 strong UK customer base in June 2011. It found that while a third of businesses (33%) knew the Act was coming into force, most are uncertain how they should adapt to it, with 50% indicating that they will simply operate as usual.
One of the main concerns consistently highlighted by larger businesses about the Act has been that it will make UK firms less competitive on the international stage. For the overwhelming majority of SMEs, however, this does not seem to be an issue at all, with 94% believing that it will not make their business less competitive internationally.
The UK Bribery Act has been described as “the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the world.” The penalties for committing a crime under the Act are a maximum of ten years' imprisonment, along with an unlimited fine for individuals successfully prosecuted under the Act. Organisations can receive an unlimited fine. There is also the potential for the confiscation of property.
Samantha Bell, a Sage People Advice HR Adviser at Sage UK, has outlined several steps small businesses should consider to ensure they do not fall foul of the new measures. “The Bribery Act has seen the creation of four new criminal offences: being bribed, bribing another, bribing a foreign official and failing to prevent bribery. What you actually need to do in relation to the changes depends on your type of business and where you trade.Continued on the next page