Office of the Provost
Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020, 10:30 a.m.
KU Lawrence Faculty and Staff

Dear Faculty and Staff,

The holiday gift-giving season is a good time to review Kansas law on what KU employees can and cannot accept when it comes to gifts, including meals, that are a result of your employment at KU. It’s unclear how the pandemic may affect this holiday season and traditions, although the law applies year-round.

K.S.A. 46-237a generally prohibits KU employees from accepting or requesting meals, gifts, entertainment, and travel provided due to their university employment.

The rules for KU employees are explained in detail below, with additional information available on the Kansas Governmental Ethics webpage. If you have questions about whether you can or should accept a meal or gift, talk to your supervisor. You may also consult with the Office of the General Counsel, 785-864-3276.

What You Can Do

KU employees can accept the following without violating the law:

  • Gifts given to you by someone based on a personal relationship totally unrelated to your university duties.
  • Intra-office gift exchanges, gifts for boss's day, administrative professional day, etc.
  • Soft drinks, coffee, or snack foods not offered as part of a meal.
  • A gift having an aggregate value of less than $40 given at a ceremony or public function when you accept the gift in your KU capacity.
  • Prizes given in truly random drawings.
  • Rebates, discounts or promotional items available to any citizen or to all state employees.

What to Know to Avoid Violations

Meals

As a general rule, KU employees may not solicit or accept free or discounted meals from a source outside state government.

Exceptions to the meal rule include:

  1. Meals motivated by a personal or family relationship.
  2. Meals valued at $40 or less.
  3. Meals provided at public events you attend in your capacity as a KU employee.
  4. Meals provided at an event or meeting where your attendance serves a legitimate university interest and your supervisor authorizes your attendance.
  5. Food such as soft drinks, coffee, or snack foods not offered as part of a meal.

Gifts

KU employees may not solicit or accept any gift provided because of their KU employment. This prohibition includes expensive speaker's gifts, keepsakes, and flowers. You also may not designate a friend, family member, or entity (for example, a charity) to receive a gift that you cannot receive.

Exceptions to the gift rule include:

  1. Gifts from relatives or personal friends.
  2. Gifts accepted on behalf of the university and that become university property.
  3. Gifts valued at less than $40 given at ceremonies or public functions when attended in your capacity as a university employee.

Entertainment

KU employees may not solicit or accept gifts in the form of entertainment. Entertainment includes free or discounted tickets or passes to events such as plays, concerts, sporting events, golf, hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities when the free or special discount tickets or access are provided because of the person's official position. The only exception to this prohibition is for employees whose KU position requires them to be present at such activities.

Travel

KU employees may not accept travel and/or lodging provided because of their KU employment by any person or company. An exception to the travel rule exists when the travel serves a legitimate university interest and the university would be willing to pay those expenses. Also, please be aware current work-related travel restrictions as a result of the pandemic are still in place.

Conferences/Seminars

KU employees may not receive discounted or complimentary registration fees to attend conferences and seminars from any person or company because of their KU employment. An exception to this rule exists when attendance serves a legitimate university interest and the university would be willing to pay those fees.

Penalties

KU employees that are found to have violated any of these prohibitions may be subject to discipline by the university, up to and including the termination of their employment. In addition, the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission can impose a civil fine of up to $5,000 for each violation, and one also can be criminally prosecuted, as a violation may constitute a class B misdemeanor. (K.S.A. 46-276).

Please take the time to understand and follow these rules. Should you need additional clarification contact your supervisor or reach out to General Counsel.

Office of the Provost 250 Strong Hall provost@ku.edu