A magical time of year

It can be the most magical time of the year, when the Christmas spirit brings together all those who have been naughty or nice in the workplace. It is an opportunity for most of us to relax, unwind and celebrate the last 365 days and all those who’ve helped it be a successful one.

But for some, the season typically, of goodwill can feel a little deflated with  nearly 20% of office workers in the capital admitting to “hating” the annual Christmas get together, according to research by LondonOffices.com. Many workers are concerned over potential drunken embarrassment, or quite simply, seeing the same faces again socially as we have seen for the last 2000 hours.

A relaxed environment aided with alcohol are usually two ingredients for a great party most of which will happen at this time of year at the annual Christmas party, we can’t forget though the responsibility for behaviour is still vitally important. Employers should be mindful of doing as much as they can to avoid any stilted Monday morning meetings with their staff.

Ensuring employees know their rights before the celebrations is one of the key things to consider. Setting out the standards that are expected even though it is away from the normal workplace is key. Asking people to drink responsibly and a decision on whether to operate a ‘cash bar’ rather than a free bar,”

Recent cases have shown that if employers provide all alcohol free of charge (i.e. free bar) and something happens as a result of too much drinking, there could be a defence by the employee that the employer contributed to the actions.

Another familiar problem employer’s face is time off around the Christmas period. For the majority of us, being required to take annual leave ensures Christmas is spent with family and friends and not work colleagues, however, this can give risks of its own to indirect religious discrimination if non-Christian employees are required to use their annual leave during the Christmas period – a time with no religious significance to them.

To manage these issues, consideration needs to be given if non-Christian workers request time off during a time that is significant in their religion. It would be wise therefore to consider whether agreement needs to be reached to make different working arrangements.

Some other tips

  • Ensure that all annual leave payments are made in line with contractual requirements and that people are taken all unused entitlement if at the end of their annual leave year
  • Although your Christmas bonus may not be mandatory, it needs to be paid to everyone or face a claim of prejudice. Again this is not limited to sex, disability, race/nationality, religion/belief, sexual orientation, marriage/civil partnership, transgender or maternity/pregnancy etc.

If you want us to help you with any aspects of business over Christmas, please do give us a call or visit our website and complete a contact you form, http://www.temehr.co.uk or 07989 343361

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