Expert advice

Legal advice: Can I accept a fee for giving a presentation at a conference?

As a nurse, it's important to avoid being seen to endorse a product or service 

As a nurse, it's important to avoid being seen to endorse a product or service 

Picture: iStock

Not all conferences will offer a fee to a speaker. If you have submitted an abstract and this has been accepted, the only remuneration you are likely to receive will be a partial or full waiver of the conference fee.

If you are invited to be a guest speaker at a conference, you should expect to receive expenses covering your travel and accommodation, but it is unusual to receive a fee for actually giving your presentation.

Issues to bear in mind

Fees for giving a presentation, in addition to expenses, are only usually provided if a company is sponsoring you to give a presentation, or if you have been invited to give a presentation at an event organised by an organisation such as a pharmaceutical or wound dressing company.

There are two issues to consider if you are thinking of giving a presentation for a fee. The first concerns your main employment and the second is about product endorsement.

You are employed by your organisation to perform certain tasks, or a role, for a given period for which you receive a salary. If you were to give a presentation on ‘work time’ and then receive a fee for this, you would effectively be being paid twice for the same work period. One way around this is to arrange to give the presentation during your annual leave.

Keep your employer informed

Some employers may view you giving a presentation as an advantage, and not be concerned that you will be receiving a fee, while others may request that the fee is paid into a central fund.

It is also advisable to inform your employer that you have been invited to give a presentation and that a fee is being offered, and make sure you follow the appropriate guidance and procedures.

To ensure you are not seen to be endorsing a particular product or service by giving a presentation, or attending a conference, you need to be clear to the organisers that your presentation will be unbiased and not subject to any editorial influence by the sponsoring company.

Marc Cornock is a qualified nurse, academic lawyer and senior lecturer at the Open University

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