Top Christmas Tips for Employers – How To Avoid HR Issues at Christmas

Avoiding Employment Issues at Christmas

So the festive season is nearly upon us. But how do employers make sure that it’s business as usual whilst your team is in festive mode?

Firstly communicate with your team and set expectations. You don’t want to be accused of being a Scrooge but if your team know what you expect from them throughout the seasonal fun then you are less likely to have issues.

Some things to consider:

Working hours and cover

If you have call rotas and need cover during the festive period make sure this is agreed and set in advance. Your staff will appreciate knowing what is expected of them. Be fair when allocating cover and include yourself as a business owner.

Secret Santa giving

Make it clear that offensive gifts are unacceptable. We don’t all share the same sense of humour and what is funny to one person can be extremely offensive to another.

Festive dress code

Christmas is a fun time and you may want staff to be able to relax in the office and celebrate things like Christmas Jumper Day. Make it clear what is acceptable. Also be sensitive to those that may not celebrate Christmas.

Accepting gifts from clients and suppliers

Do you have a clear policy with regard to gifts received from suppliers and clients?

It would be a good idea to think about what staff can keep or how to share gifts out amongst the team to make it fair. Think about what you have done in the past which may have become custom and practice.

Getting everyone involved

Not everyone celebrates Christmas for religious or personal reasons. Make sure that staff are not forced into activities that make them uncomfortable.

Christmas may not be a happy time for everyone. Be sensitive and make sure you create an environment where team members are able to be themselves without being called boring!

The Christmas Party

This can be either the best night of the year for some staff or a dreaded night out for some. Most employers have had issues resulting from bad behaviour at the work Christmas do. Here are some tips to make sure it goes smoothly:

  • Tell your staff what standards you expect from them at work social events and the possible consequences of bad behaviour. Remind them that it is a work-related event and whatever happens will be treated in the same way as it would in the office.
  • Vicarious liability – employers can be liable for any actions committed by their employees in the course of their employment. This includes bust-ups at the work Christmas party!
  • If your contract provides for it, you can deduct pay from those staff that are late in the next day – make this clear. Taking a ‘sickie’ is not acceptable! But also be aware that your team members will not be at 100% the next day too.
  • Make sure HR policies are in place, such as harassment including sexual harassment, Health and Safety and absence.
  • Make sure your insurance covers this kind of event.

Social media at the Christmas party

Posting photos online that have been taken at the party may bring your business into disrepute. It could also impact on the privacy of your staff.

Make it clear this is not acceptable, or refer staff to your social media policy.

Drinking and driving

Make sure that transport is provided or paid for to ensure staff get home safely and there are no drink-driving occurrences. As an employer, you may be liable and this is part of your duty of care to your staff.

Employees on leave

Make sure staff on maternity or paternity leave or any other long-term leave are invited too.

What to do if something goes wrong

• Follow your HR policies and procedures to the letter

• Take action quickly – but not at the party – wait until everyone is sober!

• Don’t ignore it!

The festive season is a great time to say thank you to your team for all their hard work throughout the year but balance this with keeping it simple so that everyone is able to relax and enjoy the festivities.

If anyone abuses your goodwill, follow through on taking action. Your business comes first!

For further information and guidance or to talk through any concerns regarding work events, employment law with regard to employee behaviour at work or any other people related issue, get in touch.

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