Charlie and Iris are working in the same company but in a different department, and they meet during lunchtime to discuss their work.
Today Iris discussed a new position being created and the Human Resources department starting to advertise the position. Charlie then tells Iris “ I have a friend who runs a placement service and an find the right person. Once the position is filled, I will split the finder’s fee with you”.
Iris knows that her company may pay as much as half a years’ salary for placement services. Charlie’s friend is likely to pay him a substantial amount if Iris awards the placement contract to them. If she can get a good employee and a little extra money on the side, everyone wins.
However, Iris is not comfortable with such an arrangement, and she’s pretty sure it’s against company policy. If this comes to pass, is Charlie or Iris doing anything illegal? What’s ethically wrong with Charlie’s proposal?
Under Australian labour law, the hiring process has to be competitive, transparent, and free of discrimination or any other outlawed activities. However, as Charlie suggests in the case study, he aims to have Iris award the placement service tender to a friend of his. This would allow and facilitate the friend’s firm, which runs placement services, to land this project without any competitive activity.
Furthermore, as stated in the question, this would be directly in violation of company policy. Equally, the decision would not have been made objectively and as part of corporate strategy to award the tender in this manner, but as part of dubious, underhand dealings between the two with mooted economic gains in the end. The finder’s fee would be the illicit wealth split between the two – Charlie and Iris.
What Iris is suggesting to Charlie runs counter to legal, ethical, and company norms. Charlie is right to feel uncomfortable and reject this option, as it will be in direct violation of company policy. Such a violation may attract severe penalties for Charlie, which may far outweigh the finder’s fee that is to be split between them. It may do more reputational damage to Charlie and Iris, or even wrap in the friend’s employee placement firm.
Moreover, the mooted actions of Charles are likely to constitute illegalities in legal terms. What Charlie is driving at will likely be seen as a form of collusion as there is a direct economic benefit for the underhand deal, which is dubious and deceitful in the means it will have been achieved.
This could expose the two individuals to criminal prosecution. It may also attract hefty fines as a result.