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Employee Recognition Awards

Read the information below to learn about non-cash awards to recognize employee achievements.

Examples of employee recognition awards

  • Flowers
  • Fruit
  • Book or similar item
  • Ticket to a sporting or cultural event (season tickets excluded)
  • Plaque
  • Non-negotiable gift certificate
  • Non-negotiable gift cards
  • 1-month parking permit (costing no more than $250)
  • 1-month transit pass (costing no more than $130)


Non-cash employee recognition awards must be awarded:

  • As part of an established recognition program with objective award criteria
  • To employees on a nondiscriminatory basis
  • On an occasional basis, not to exceed 3 awards per year
  • Not to exceed $75 in total, for all awards presented in a calendar year, per employee
  • Gifts can't be purchased for certain situations including but not limited to holidays, farewell, graduation, and end-of-year recognition
  • Note: Employee recognition awards that do not meet any one of the above conditions do not meet the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) test for a tax exemption and are not allowed.


Department heads have the authority to approve transactions.


When UCSD policy is followed, non-cash awards and gifts are not taxable to the employee. See limits.

Funding sources

Allowable funding sources include:

  • State funds
  • Federal funds: Awards must meet the requirements outlined in OMB Circular A-21 (PDF).
  • Other funds: Fund guidelines must allow award expenditures. If a fund's guidelines are more restrictive than UCSD policy, the fund policy prevails.


Notice: UCSD's non-cash award policy is derived from UC Policy and Regulations. Published policy is decisive as it has been adapted to UCSD's organization, delegation of authority, terminology, and chart of accounts.