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An Employer’s Guide to Christmas An Employer’s Guide to Christmas

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Dec 17

An Employer’s Guide to Christmas

Written by An Employer’s Guide to Christmas

Christmas can present a myriad of challenges for employers and finding the right balance between playing Santa and Scrooge can be difficult. As the festive season gets underway, here’s some guidance to make sure your company’s festive season goes smoothly.

Have a social policy in place

Employers have a duty of care to their staff, so having a policy that relates to Christmas parties and work-related social events is sensible. Ask staff to read it before the Christmas party and communicate what the acceptable standards of behaviour are, making it clear that disciplinary action could be taken if an employee behaves badly.

Can an employee be disciplined for misconduct at a work Christmas party?

Yes. If the individual’s actions are associated with work and have an impact on their work or the workplace.

Be sensitive to your employee’s values and culture

Be aware of religious and cultural differences and those staff members who may find the social aspects of the Christmas party overwhelming. For example, think about the selection of non-alcoholic drinks available and how to involve everyone in the event.

Don’t be tempted to talk shop

Managers should avoid conversations about performance, promotion, salary or career prospects at the Christmas party. Approaching these sensitive areas in social settings can lead to problems and will invariably require follow-up at a later date.

Managing annual leave

For many businesses, Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year and allocating leave can be difficult. Try to be fair and ensure time off is shared amongst all staff and that junior employees aren’t forgotten about.

What leave do employers have to give?

There is no automatic right to have the Christmas bank holidays off work or given as paid time off unless terms in the employment contract allow otherwise. Paid public holidays can be counted as part of statutory annual leave depending on your employment contracts.

Can employers force their employees to work overtime in the run-up to and during Christmas?

It depends on whether the contract of employment includes a clause requiring an employee to work overtime when required. If this is the case then an employer is within their rights to ask for overtime and take disciplinary action if an employee refuses.

What can I do if staff don’t turn up or are late the day after the Christmas party?

An employer can deduct wages from an employee’s salary for unauthorised absence provided this course of action is clearly written into their contract of employment. Where an employee does not attend due to illness, the employer should follow its attendance management policy and procedures.

Can employers ask staff to take annual leave during Christmas?

Yes, although if you are closing a workplace over Christmas this needs to be clearly stated in the holiday policy and/or contract of employment.

I normally give a Christmas bonus but do I have to do it?

There is a legal right to a bonus where this is specified in a contract of employment, although usually certain criteria or targets must be met for it to be paid. However, if bonuses have been paid regularly and become a custom, then employees may be able to argue that it forms part of their employment contract. If this happens and you don’t pay the bonus then it may amount to an unlawful deduction of wages.




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