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Administrative (Non-Clinical) Policy
This administrative policy applies to the operations and staff of the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and
Clinics Authority (UWHCA) as integrated effective July 1, 2015, including the legacy operations and
staff of University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and University of Wisconsin Medical
Policy Title: Employee Gift Policy
Policy Number: 1.64
Effective Date: May 1, 2017
This policy was created to develop a consistent approach to the use of gifts, recognitions and awards
across UW Health. This facilitates administration, enhances record keeping, ensures compliance with IRS
regulations, and eliminates confusion regarding allowable gifts. This policy was developed with review of
IRS regulations and consultation with tax advisors. Guidelines for allowable gifts have been established
to align with IRS regulations so that the gift does not result in taxable income to the recipient.
For the purpose of this policy, an employee gift recipient will be defined as an employee of the University
of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics Authority or the University of Wisconsin Medical Foundation. The
following guidelines will be applied for gifts regardless of the funding source. NOTE: Employees of the
UW School of Medicine and Public Health are covered by any relevant UW Madison policies. For the
purpose of this policy, they are considered non-employees.
A. De minimis benefit –The IRS defines a de minimis benefit as any property or service provided to
an employee that has so little value that accounting for it would be unreasonable and
administratively impracticable. Such benefits must also be given infrequently.
B. Cash or cash equivalent-The IRS further clarifies that cash and cash equivalent fringe benefits, no
matter what the dollar amount, are not considered de minimis fringe benefits. Therefore, under
IRS guidelines, gift certificates and gift cards are considered the same as cash and are taxable to
the employee. Gift cards must be included in wages on the employee’s Form W-2 and are subject
to income tax withholding. If the employee is covered for social security and Medicare, the value
of the benefit is subject to withholding for these taxes also.
C. Length of service award – Gift for time of service to an organization. This is a corporate award as
part of an established corporate program for employees.
D. Tangible property –Any property which can be moved or touched, such as clothing, furniture or
jewelry. It does not include cash or cash equivalents.
E. Gifts –Any tangible property, service, entertainment, travel or money provided to an individual
for which payment or services are not provided in return.
F. Industry – manufacturers, services and other vendors of pharmaceutical, medical device, medical
supply, and medical testing companies, construction companies, professional services vendors,
and their employees, representatives, agents and vendors.
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III. POLICY ELEMENTS
A. Gifts for Employees
1. No gift cards are allowed (except for corporate-wide sponsored recognition programs).
2. Generally gifts must be considered of de minimis value. The use of UW Health branded
items is preferred.
3. No gifts are allowed from industry – this includes tangible property such as pens, sticky
notes, squishy balls, etc. as well as intangible experiences such as travel, tickets to
entertainment, golf outings, etc.
a. In general, when offered gifts from industry partners, employees should decline
the gift and explain our gift policy.
b. When gifts are received without the opportunity to decline (e.g. a fruit basket is
delivered to an office or department), if the gift is of de minimis value, it should
be donated to a charity or, in the case of perishable goods, shared with all
employees in the department/area. In addition the vendor should be contacted and
told not to send future gifts.
c. When gifts are received without immediate opportunity to decline that do not fall
under de minimis value, the gift should be returned with an explanation of our
policy, or reimbursement should be sent to the vendor for the value of the gift.
d. If accepting an invitation to an event/meeting from an industry partner that has
business value to the organization, the invitation can be accepted if the employee
pays for the cost of the event. The cost may be an allowable business expense;
however, approval from the employee’s supervisor is required for
reimbursement. NOTE: An exception is invitations to charity events for UW
Health. Employees are allowed to accept such invitations and do not need to
reimburse the vendor for the cost of the ticket.
e. Employees may be involved in business related lunches/dinners with industry
partners. Employees should pay for their own meals and submit for
reimbursement with their supervisor’s approval.
f. Employees are allowed to accept reduced fees or expenses for
conference/meeting attendance when it is a result of providing services to the
conference/meeting e.g. planning committee participation, advisory board
participation, presenting at sessions or other activities that are of service to the
4. There are no restrictions placed on personal gifts given between coworkers.
B. Gifts for Non-Employees
1. Some gifts given to non-employees meet the guidelines of an allowable business expense.
For example, a fruit basket could be given to a networking clinic at the holidays. Gifts for
spouses, family members, or other non-employees are not allowed unless there is a
business reason for the gift. Gifts that meet de minimis guidelines such as UW Health
logo items may be given to a faculty recruit as an allowable business expense for
physician recruitment. NOTE: Gifts to School of Medicine and Public Health employees
should generally meet the same guidelines as gifts for employees (See Section III.A) as
long as acceptance of the gift does not violate relevant UW Madison policies.
C. Gifts from Patients or Other Outside Parties
1. UW Health recognizes that patients or other outside parties may wish to present
employees with gifts or money. In order to avoid conflicts of interest, gratuities in any
dollar amount and gifts of any value may not be accepted. However, if perishable goods
are delivered to a unit or employee (e.g. cookies from a family member, fruit basket), it
should be handled consistent with Section 3.b of this policy.
D. Exchange of Personal Gifts Among Employees
1. This policy does not prohibit the exchange of gifts among employees on occasions such
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as baby showers, holiday gift exchanges, birthdays, or employees leaving employment,
subject to the following conditions:
a. No institutional officer may solicit or compel individual contributions to such a
b. No organizational funds from any source may be contributed to such a gift either
by direct payment or employee reimbursement.
E. Charitable Contributions
1. If a non-employee requests the fee for his/her services (for example, an honorarium) be
donated to a charitable organization, this cannot be done. A check can be issued to the
speaker and the speaker can then donate the money. The money would be considered
taxable income for the speaker, and in this situation, the speaker can take a charitable
deduction on his/her personal return.
2. If a retiring employee has asked that a donation in his/her honor be made to a particular
organization, this can be done. The UW Health funding entity will expense the donation.
This would not be taxable income to the employee, and the employee would not be
eligible to take a charitable deduction on his/her personal tax return.
F. Non-Allowable Gifts
1. No gift cards, gift certificates or cash equivalents of any value are allowed except as
noted in Section III.A.1.
2. Organization funds may not be used to pay or reimburse for personal expenses. For
example, a faculty member may not give their professional development funds to another
employee to pay for parking spaces, airfare for conference attendance not funded by their
department, etc., since this would be considered a gift to that employee.
A. Exceptions to this Policy
1. Any exceptions to this policy must be approved by the Chief Administrative Officer of
UW Health or his/her designee. In the event an exception is made to this policy, such
gifts to employees or non-employees may be taxable income and reported on an
employee’s W-2 or reported to a non-employee on a form 1099-MISC.This may require
completion of a W-9 by the non-employee prior to receiving the gift.
2. Exceptions may require that a disclaimer be placed on any announcements, posters,
invitations, and handouts that the value of the gift/prize will be taxable income to the gift
3. Meals for residents are covered by the Resident On Call Meal policy. In addition, there
may be limited use of meal cards for staff in certain situations where staff is held over for
extended periods of time.
B. Required Documentation
1. Documentation is required to support all purchases of gifts. Transactions that are not
accompanied by the required documentation will be declined for payment and/or
reimbursement. Documentation should include:
a. Detailed original receipts.
b. Documentation to indicate compliance with the above guidelines and to justify
the purpose and reasonableness of the gift.
Publication 5137 – 2014 Fringe Benefit Guide
Publication 15B – Employers Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits
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Sr. Management Sponsor: UW Health Chief Administrative Officer
Author: UW Health Chief Administrative Officer
Reviewer(s): Fiscal, Compliance
Approval: UW Health Administrative Policy and Procedure Committee
UW Health Chief Administrative Officer
Next revision: 052020