The New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics regulations set limits on the amount of honoraria state employees and officers can receive and defines an honorarium as:
- Any payment, which may take the form of a fee or other compensation, made to a covered person in consideration for a service performed that is not part of his or her official duties. Such service includes delivering a speech, writing or publishing an article, or participating in any public or private conference, convention, meeting, or similar event. An honorarium shall also include expenses incurred for travel, lodging, and meals related to the service performed.
- An honorarium shall not mean a payment provided to a covered person who provides services for or acts on behalf of an employee organization certified or recognized under Article 14 of the Civil Service Law to represent such covered person.
The key is that the service for which an honorarium is received is not job-related.
Honoraria must be approved by the individual’s approving authority. At Purchase College, the approving authority is the director of human resources. Faculty members are exempt from requesting approval for honoraria in advance, provided that the service they perform is within the subject matter of their official academic or research discipline. If the service to be performed for an honorarium is not within the subject matter of your official academic or research discipline, you need to seek permission in advance to perform the service. Requests for permission should be made in writing to the director of human resources and include the following:
- Identity of the person or the person’s business offering the honorarium
- A detailed description of the service for which the honorarium is offered, including the date and location where the service will be performed
- The amount of the honorarium and, if applicable, an itemization of amounts paid for the service, attendance, registration, travel, lodging, and meals
An employee who is performing a service for an honorarium may not use state personnel, equipment, and time to prepare for this service. No state funds can be used to pay for the employee’s attendance, registration, travel, lodging, or meal expenses. If the service to be performed is during the person’s normal workday, he or she must charge leave time (other than sick) to perform the service. Performing honoraria must not violate Public Officers Law §74.
If the honorarium is from an interested source, the following criteria must be met: Looking at the totality of the circumstances, it is not reasonable to infer that the honoraria is intended/expected to influence the person or intended as a reward for an official action. New York State Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government defines “interested source” as “a person or entity that has certain dealings or involvement with an individual’s agency. This includes vendors, lobbyists, and other persons or entities that do business with, have matter before, or have received or applied for funds from, an individual’s agency. It also includes entitles that are regulated by an individual’s agency.”
If an honorarium received is more than $1,000, it must be reported on Question 13 of the financial disclosure statement for required filers.