Is your organisation prepared for the HR challenges of the festive season? Here are some tips for employers.
- Are you aware of the possible legal implications of a situation with an employee getting out of hand at your office Christmas party?
- Christmas gifts from customers to your employees – do you have a policy in place to regulate this?
- How do you include employees in the festive events at the office if they do not normally celebrate Christmas e.g. for religious reasons?
- Did you know that 1 in 10 workers have been disciplined or dismissed for their behaviour at an office Christmas party?
During the Christmas period employers face a minefield of HR challenges. We’re always here to help with any employee problems which arise over the festive season.
The Christmas season has a big impact on most businesses and employees in the UK. It will be a time when there is extra demand for products, services and sales in some businesses whilst others may experience quiet periods or shut down for the Christmas holidays.
Many employees will request time off to spend time with their family, go on holiday or attend religious services. Employees working over the Christmas period may experience different working patterns, a change in the nature of their workload or face difficulties getting to and from work. To ensure consistency of treatment it makes sense to have written procedures in place to clarify the benefits available to staff, together with the associated procedures, payments and conditions.
If your organisation closes down over the festive season, make sure that your contract of employment and handbook reflect the arrangements that your organisation operates in respect of this time.
Many organisations receive gifts at Christmas from grateful suppliers or customers. If you don’t have a Bribery Policy or guidelines, it might be worth thinking about introducing some. It helps to remind staff about what kind of gift (if any) is acceptable. You might want to say that a gift of small value (e.g. under £10) can be kept or shared by the employee, but if they receive anything of greater value, if they are not sure of the value, or if the intention behind the gift is to encourage them to agree a sale, then they should inform a manager.
Think of employees who may not celebrate Christmas
We live and work in a multi-cultural society and some employees may be put off by any event described as a ‘Christmas’ party. Festive parties can enhance team morale and allow staff to celebrate successes of the past year. However, there may be some employees who do not participate because of their own religious beliefs. Conflicts in this area could result in claims under the Equality Act 2010.
There are ways in which you can reduce the risk of complaints by giving some thought to the day on which the party is held, looking at dietary requirements and even renaming the event to ‘Year-end’ or ‘Winter’ party. Employers may also want to consider how to encourage social gatherings where alcohol does not become the central feature.
Dealing with the aftermath of the office Christmas party
Research shows that 90% of employers have had to deal with an issue arising from a Christmas party, and 1 in 10 workers have been disciplined or dismissed for their behaviour. Every year we are asked to advise on a variety of issues arising out of Christmas parties. These are almost always alcohol related.
How to avoid these situations?
- Remind staff that ‘normal employment rules still apply’ at the party. It is still a ‘work’ event and that they are ambassadors of the business.
- Be very clear on expectations the next day. If the party is on a week day and staff are expected to be in and working, make it known what the implications will be if they do not turn up. Speak to them upfront, preferably in a team meeting, as opposed to by email.
- If things do take a turn for the worse, be ready to intervene at an early stage.
With the New Year fast approaching, why not ask us to review your handbook/policies/contracts so that they are out of your inbox and ticked off your to-do list before we hit January 1st?
Call us on 01494 817193 and let us take the stress out of the end of the year.