Tis the season to be merry. With the countdown officially now on, employers and HR professionals should be setting out guidelines as to what is and is not acceptable behaviour from their employees, and avoid any mishaps dampening the Christmas spirit. The Ramsay Partnership has prepared a short guide to help you through the festive season:
- Office parties – whether it is the office party or a client social event, employees need to remember that they still represent the company. Employers should provide a clear policy on the standards of behaviour expected at the Christmas party and what kinds of behaviour are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Remind staff that misconduct will result in the usual disciplinary procedures. A risk that is often heightened by alcohol at the Christmas party is sexual harassment, and an employer can be found liable for not providing adequate protection for an employee.
Employers have a duty of care to employees and should consider hiring a mini bus or taxis after an event to ensure they get home safely. At the party itself put someone in charge of monitoring the activities of staff and their intake of alcohol.
- Time keeping – it isn’t just the office Christmas party that you need to consider, there are likely to be a number of work and personal social events throughout December and this can lead to a tendency on staff to turn up late for work the following day. Make it clear to staff what is and is not acceptable and that disciplinary action will be taken against any employee who fails to turn up, or turns up late, the day after the office party if there is reason to believe that the non-attendance or lateness is due to over-consumption of alcohol.
- Religion and diversity – the ‘Christmas’ festivities can often bring about issues of diversity, as the workforce can be made up of different religions and cultural beliefs. Nobody should be put under pressure to join in the festivities if they do not wish to do so, and all religions should be respected and embraced. Although often called a ‘Christmas’ party, they tend not to have a religious aspect. However, when organising the party, ensure that date, venue, times, menu are suitable for everyone to take part.
- Holidays – companies that keep their offices open over the Christmas period may have a problem dealing with conflicting holiday requests from employees who all want time off. The Christmas season should not be treated differently from other times of the year, so ensure that staff are aware in advance of the usual holiday request procedure that should be followed.
- Christmas Bonus – if you are thinking about rewarding your staff for their hard work throughout the year with a bonus or gift at Christmas time, remember the tax rules don’t disappear. And remind staff if they are participating in a Secret Santa present scheme, they should be respectful of what gifts they give.
Christmas parties are often seen as a way of improving staff morale and loyalty and thanking employees for all their hard work and efforts over the previous year. However, employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees at office parties, if those actions are deemed to have been committed in the course of employment, therefore having the right policies in place is vital. The Ramsay Partnership offers expert Human Resources advice by installing our HR Advisers on site to manage human resources. From managing disciplinary processes and termination, to drafting policies to providing training, our experts can help guide you through the festive season. Get in touch today to making sure the festive period is one for everyone to enjoy, and get the company off to a good start for 2018.
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