The Royal Mail claims to be taking the Bribery Act 2010 "very seriously" and consequently has issued a warning to its staff on their 'My Royal Mail' website not to accept tips or gifts valued at more than £30 for fear of falling foul of the act.
At Christmas time, many people want to reward their hardworking local postman or woman by leaving a tip, and while Royal Mail states that tips are allowed, they should "never be accepted in return for favours, for example, earlier delivery, enhanced collection etc."
The warning outlined the potential penalties that staff might face: "Individuals could face unlimited fines and imprisonment for up to ten years."
As well as penalties for staff, there could also be repercussions for the company: "Companies face loss of reputation, unlimited fines and could be barred from participating in public procurement contracts."
The Royal Mail advised its staff to only accept money or gifts worth up to £30, and anything more than that "must be politely declined".
Following the announcement, the Royal Mail was widely criticised by the national media for being scrooge-like.
Staff were angered by the warning. One Royal Mail worker said: "If I was to tell someone I couldn't take a tip off of them for Christmas, because it could be a corrupt payment, they would probably think I was mad."
In response to the media backlash, Royal Mail issued another statement on their staff website claiming, "In spite of what you may have read in the press this weekend, there is nothing wrong with accepting a small gesture of appreciation."
"We want all our colleagues to get the recognition they deserve for that from the British public."
Do you think you should be able to tip your postman or woman however much you wish without it being considered a bribe? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.
Read more on the story (My Royal Mail)
What is the Bribery Act? (FindLaw)
Find local specialist solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)