With the festive period upon us and the big day itself only 11 sleeps away, Cecily Donoghue, employment solicitor at Gregg Latchams, summarises the key employment and HR issues to keep in mind to ensure a most wonderful time of year.
The Christmas Party
The intention is to celebrate the past year and allow staff the opportunity to relax and enjoy time together outside of work. The reality can, unfortunately, be very different and planning ahead can save a lot of time and effort. The key points to keep in mind are:
- Travel – this is likely to have formed part of the practical arrangements when deciding on a venue but do consider how staff will get home after a party. Whilst they should all make their own arrangements, encourage staff to plan ahead and consider providing the telephone numbers of taxis if transport is not provided.
- Religious beliefs – Be mindful of employees’ various religious beliefs. For example, choose the day of the week carefully as having an event on a Friday night may exclude Jewish employees; offer non-alcoholic drinks and provide a range of foods to cater for those who may be vegetarian or unable to eat pork or beef. It’s a good idea to ask about any special dietary arrangements in advance so these can be accommodated and menus are now helpfully more diverse.
- Misconduct – Staff should already understand the standards of behaviour expected but make it clear that any issues relating to excessive alcohol consumption, fighting, illegal drug use and inappropriate language will not be tolerated. If any issues do arise, try to diffuse them on site and make sure to deal with these promptly the next working day.
- Complaints – whilst we all hope that everyone can enjoy themselves, this is sadly not always the case. If a member of staff raises a formal grievance then this must be dealt with promptly as if it had been submitted at any other time of year. Employers (and directors personally) can be held vicariously liable for discriminatory acts of other employees. Remind employees, any plus ones and any third party entertainers or suppliers that harassment will not be tolerated.
- The next day- warn staff in advance that unauthorised absence the day after the event may be treated as a disciplinary issue. Staff may call in sick but don’t assume that they are not genuine. Evidence is required before an employer can take action alleging that a member of staff has dishonestly called in sick.
A white Christmas?
After such a hot summer, it’s difficult to remember the snow earlier in the year. It’s not yet widely forecast, but it is good practice to have an established policy so staff know in advance what they should do in the event of snow.
We’ve listed below some of the most common situations, and how to deal with them.
We hope that the festive season is enjoyable and without incident. However if you do have any issues, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the employment team on 0117 906 9494.
Christmas and New Year 2018 opening hours:
- All of our offices will close at 17:30 on Friday 21 December
- Offices will reopen on Thursday 27 December, Friday 28 December and Monday 31 December 2018 with reduced opening hours of 09:00-13:00
- Normal opening hours of 08:30 to 17:30 will resume on Wednesday 2 January 2019