Office of Ethics
United States Department of Agriculture

Frequently Asked Questions

III. Subpart C — Gifts between employees.


a.    General standards (Section 2635.302).

Question I know that I cannot accept gifts from employees who work for me, but what if my supervisor gives me a gift?
 
Answer

You may accept a gift from your official superior and the value of that gift isn't limited by the $10 gift rule. The prohibitions are against giving a gift to a superior or accepting a gift from an employee making less pay than you. However, the superior needs to be sensitive to the possibility that other employees may view this as favoritism, especially where the receiving employee receives promotions or favorable assignments. This could result in employee grievances.

 

b.    Definitions (Section 2635.303).

Question Must employee contributions towards gifts for official superiors be voluntary?
 
Answer

Yes. The employee must be allowed to decide for himself or herself, without coercion, whether to participate. There is no exception to voluntariness of contributions.

 

c.    Exceptions (Section 2635.304).

Question A management official from headquarters travels to a remote Agency field office near a cheese factory. An employee of the field office asks if employees can collect $10 in donations to provide cheese for a reception honoring the management official. Is this permissible?
 
Answer

On an occasional basis, employees may contribute towards food and refreshments to be shared in the office among employees (5 CFR § 2635.304(c)(2)). The employees could contribute voluntarily toward purchasing the cheese if it is to be eaten within the office by all employees, including the management official from headquarters.