An Employers Guide to Christmas

 With Christmas just around the corner, infectious festive cheer can be found in most organisations. Whether it’s the sparkling lights cheering up a dreary December day or perhaps the informality and feelings of togetherness that arise from an organised Christmas Jumper day. There is no disputing that presents of productivity and high morale come early for most employers throughout December. However, Christmas can also bring some unexpected and unwanted surprises for employers that fail to consider some of the following issues.

Mistletoe and Wine

 The highlight of the work Christmas season for many is the work Christmas Party, for the night in question at least – the next day may be another story entirely. One issue to bear in mind is where employers wish to reward their staff for their hard work throughout the year with a ‘free bar’ for the annual festive get together. Employers should always remind employees of the conduct expected at the Christmas Party and that the party should be treated as an extension of the workplace. Where employers fail to inform employees of what is required, it is unlikely that they will be able to discipline staff for any drunken acts of misconduct as it may be viewed that an employer has actually encouraged and facilitated bad behaviour by providing a ‘free bar’ for the event.

 It is also important to consider those that may be unintentionally left out of the festive celebrations and that every effort is made to include all staff irrespective of age, sex, religion or disability. Staff should also not be penalised for not being able to attend or pressurised into attending either.  

 Another thing to consider is the seemingly innocent suggestion of a kiss when employees ‘find themselves’ near the mistletoe. Whilst it may be hard to stop employees getting “closer”, possibly aided by an alcohol fuelled, merry atmosphere, you may wish to advise that senior employees should be discouraged from doing so with people they have authority over. A quick chat with all employees before the Christmas party to ensure that they’re aware of the potential consequences where an employee’s advances are one-sided can help to limit any grievances raised. Employers should also make sure that they have appropriate policies in force for dealing with any grievances that arise.

 All I Want for Christmas

 As if racking your brain for ideas for all of the family isn’t hard enough, consider the effects of Secret Santa where you now have to think of a present for Joe Bloggs in Payroll with only £5 to spend. Where staff are participating in Secret Santa, it is worth reminding them before hand of what is an appropriate gift. Whilst they may be sure that the receiver will see the humour in the gift, it might be that someone else in the business does not, and even though the gift hasn’t been bought for them, someone else may wish to raise a grievance regarding its inappropriateness. Employees should also be informed that any gifts given should not be used as an opportunity to ridicule or bully other staff members. A simple reminder of codes of conduct will keep employees off of ‘the naughty list’.

 Driving Home for Christmas

 With excitement high at this time of year, employees will likely want to get the best arrangement they can in terms of time off over the Christmas period. This topic can lead to disgruntlement and feelings of inequity if not planned out and communicated effectively. Where the business is open over the Christmas period, it might be a good idea to put the onus on staff to find a solution to who is working which days/times. If this proves ineffective, employers should ensure that time off is allocated fairly and ensure that favourable treatment isn’t given to those with families or specific religions to avoid any claims of discrimination.

 If you feel that you require a little more guidance and advice to avoid tampering the Christmas spirit in your organisation, P4B Law employ specialist Employment Law Advisors who will be happy to help you with any issues you may have so that you can get back to enjoying the Christmas Period.

 When Tribunals go wrong for employers, it can be extremely costly to a business. However, providing that you have followed all of our advice, our insurance cover will pay both your legal expenses in defending a claim together with any compensation that the employee may be awarded so you won’t be left wondering whether a bumper pay out may mean this is your last Christmas in business.