Article 10 of the Ethics Act requires employees of the university or any state agency, as well as their immediate family members living with them, to not accept or solicit gifts from prohibited sources, unless the gift meets one of the exceptions defined in the law and is not further restricted by Illinois Executive Order 15-09 (EO 15-09), which is more restrictive than the Ethics Act.
The University voluntarily adopted the restrictions of EO 15-09. Employees may no longer accept any gifts from a prohibited source, and the acceptance of meals has been restricted to only accepting meals that are of de minimis value served at a business meeting or reception attended by the employee as part of their official duties as an employee.
It is important to note the exceptions to the gift ban do not excuse or condone violations of other state and federal laws. You should always consider the donor's intentions and expectations, as well as university policies, before accepting any gift.
Current vendors, along with their spouses and immediate family members living with those vendors, are considered prohibited sources. Further, a prohibited source is any individual or entity that conducts or seeks to conduct business with the university or any other state agency. Those seeking official action or who have interests that may be substantially affected by the performance or non-performance of the official duties of a university employee or the university are considered prohibited sources.
Gifts are defined as gratuities, discounts, entertainment, hospitality, loans, forbearance, items with monetary value, and honoraria received in connection with university employment.
Please Note: Gifts given to employees that are not from a prohibited source are not restricted under the Ethics Act. Only those gifts received from a prohibited source are affected by the gift ban provisions of the Ethics Act. Employees should consult university and department policies to determine if there are additional restrictions regarding gift acceptance. The strictest requirement must be followed.
It is important to recognize the gift ban applies to you as an employee, in addition to immediate family members living with you.
To avoid violating the gift ban, employees who unintentionally accept a gift from a prohibited source that does not fall within an exception should promptly take one of the following actions:
Though it is not required for employees to provide proof of their compliance with the law, it is a good business practice to maintain a copy of the donation receipt, cancelled check, or other form of support in the event your compliance ever comes into question.
There are exceptions to the Ethics Act’s gift ban that allow for employee solicitation or acceptance of a gift from a prohibited source. They include:
Per EO 15-09, food and beverage provided by a prohibited source may be accepted only when the food or beverage provided is of de minimis value and served at a business meeting or reception attended by the employee as part of his or her official duties. The $75 food and refreshment exemption from the law is NO LONGER applicable, unless your employment is a result of your enrollment as a student. EO 15-09 also overrides the exception allowing the acceptance of small gifts during the calendar year having a cumulative total value of under $100 dollars. There is a zero-tolerance policy regarding the acceptance of gifts by employees, with the exception of those individuals whose employment is a direct result of their enrollment as a student.
Educational Materials and Missions (EMM) is an important exception (ILCS 430/10-15(4)) to the gift ban in a time of budget constraints. This exception addresses those gifts related to official university business such as travel, conferences, and speaking engagements, where a prohibited source is paying some or all of the related expenses. Typical expenses covered under this exception include, but are not limited to: lodging, conference fees, meals and transportation. This exception is further clarified through Administrative Rule 1620.700 and EO 15-09.
Per EO 15-09, approval for this exception must be granted by the EEC and must be requested in advance of the activity. The Governor’s Office provided further clarification allowing the EEC to delegate the approval authority back to the university Ethics Officer. The University of Illinois, Southern Illinois University, and Illinois State University have sought and received this delegation allowing for internal approval of EMM related gifts.
Ultimately, employees are required to seek approval for any expenditures paid by a prohibited source under the EMM exception. All of the following criteria must be met for approval consideration:
Only two items do not require approval under the EMM exception, provided that there are no additional expenditures being covered:
These items, when received without any other gifts or expenditure coverage, may be accepted without approval under Administrative Rule 1620.700.