Examples of appropriate gifts include:
• Meals, gratuities, amenities, or favors based on obvious family or personal relationships. The circumstances should make it clear that the relationship, rather than the business of the credit union, is the motivating factor.
For example, let’s say Aunt Margaret, who also happens to be a member of the credit union, pays for your meal at an expensive restaurant one day on your lunch break.
• Meals, refreshments, travel arrangements, accommodations, or entertainment of reasonable value in the course of a meeting or other business occasion.
In this case, the occasion must be for a bona fide business discussion or part of an effort to foster better business relations. And the expense should be one the credit union would pay as a reasonable business expense if not being paid by another party.
Check your credit union’s policies to determine if a dollar limit on gifts and favors is established under this exception.
• Advertising or promotional material of reasonable value, including pens, pencils, note pads, key chains, calendars, and similar items.
• Discounts or rebates on merchandise or services that are available to other persons or customers of the business or person under similar circumstances.
• Gifts of reasonable value related to commonly recognized events or occasions—such as a promotion, a new job, a wedding, a retirement, Christmas, or a bar or bat mitzvah.
For example, under the act, it’s permissible for you to accept a wedding gift from one of your favorite members.
Again, check your credit union’s policies to determine if they specify a dollar amount for acceptable gifts. NCUA doesn’t define acceptable dollar amounts credit union personnel can give or receive in instances of business-related entertainment or gifts. The expectation is that the amount should be “reasonable.”
Each credit union must establish its own acceptable standards, with examples of what’s considered appropriate. Review your credit union’s guidelines and expectations now as the holiday gift-giving begins.
This article first appeared in Front Line Newsletter.