On the 1st day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “Are we even allowed to put up a Christmas Tree?”

We cannot think of any reason you should not put up a Christmas tree at work if you want to. Why keep your decorations for Christmas though?  Recognise and celebrate the multicultural holidays and festivals of all of your employees throughout the year. Inclusion and respect for your diverse workforce has a positive and significant impact on workplace morale and employee engagement as well as helping to avoid any tribunal claims.

On the 2nd day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “What are we doing for our Christmas Party?”

Boris says we can still have a Christmas party so be it a big fancy bash, a Christmas lunch, or drinks in the Company offices, whatever you do for your Christmas party make sure you make it inclusive.

A boozy night out might be great for some but not so much for any non-drinkers and whilst we hate to be the fun police, please remember you may be liable for employee’ actions if you ply them with too much booze so encourage responsible drinking and ensure safe journeys home. Be conscious of your employees with specific dietary requirements, allergies or religious requirements when picking your menu. Some people might still be nervous about the risk of Covid in large gatherings so may decide not to attend this year; it’s a personal choice after all.

Have fun and after a great get together with much merriment, make sure everyone gets home safely! Pre-booked taxis is an excellent idea!

On the 3rd day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “Can you sign for my online shopping delivery?”

Do you want your working day constantly interrupted by couriers knocking on the door? We’d probably guess not.

You may already have rules in place around personal deliveries to the workplace, but it would be good to set some boundaries if not or it could end up looking like an elf workshop!

On the 4th day of cHRistmas my employee said to me “we need more people than just you and me”

It’s important to not overwork your current staff team and it’s fine to take on temporary staff during seasonal fluctuations. Of course, there are still plenty of legislative requirements that you need to be aware of when hiring them!

Temporary staff are still entitled to:

  • a contract of employment if being directly employed
  • annual leave
  • national minimum wage
  • statutory parental and carer rights
  • pension if eligible
  • not be discriminated against or treated less favourably than permanent staff members

An alternative can be to take on workers rather than employees – ask us if you are unsure of the difference.  Hiring temporary staff has a strong financial attraction to many companies, but there are also other advantages. In a collection of temporary employees, you may find a potential candidate who has the right skills and talents to work for your company long-term.

On the 5th day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “Look what my client gave me!”

“Even the best intentions can cause issues.”

Although it may seem harmless to receive gifts at Christmas, there are rules about what you can and can’t do – both financial and ethical. It is particularly important that you have a proper policy or guidelines in place to ensure that any employee or client gifts are appropriate.

It must be considered about when a gift could be seen as bribery – The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE) defines that a gift is not a gift: when a “business relationship will be altered, or if there is an expectation that it will be influenced in some way.” The IBE set out a few guidelines of gifts that are clearly meant to influence.

If you or your staff get sent a bottle of wine as a thanks from a happy customer, or you want to send boxes of chocolates (cakes…cheese…wine…baileys…!) to us, or any of your other suppliers, you are unlikely to fall foul of the Bribery Act!

On the 6th day of cHRistmas my employee said to me “Who did you get for Secret Santa, did you get me?”

The time of year has come where everybody (well nearly everybody) is getting excited for Secret Santa! Employees have their fingers crossed that they pick a name of someone that they know what to buy for. But sometimes it isn’t always the case and this initially fun present exchange has the potential to cause friction and upset.

Novelty gifts, adult-themed gifts, beauty products, toys and games have been reported as the top unthoughtful presents. If you’re having a Secret Santa at work, you should consider creating some rules to avoid any unwanted HR issues.  Guidelines for cost and suitable gift ideas might stop your employees from having to open edible sweetie underwear in front of their workmates!

On the 7th day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “can I have tomorrow off as hol – i – dee?”

This time of year, we often see an increase in short term and last minute holiday requests. During the festive season many people gather together and celebrate and that doesn’t always happen on an employee’s already scheduled days off.  This time of year is often when people are trying to use up the last of their holiday too. To avoid issues with too many staff being off at the same time you could consider a team holiday diary, where employees can see what days other employees are in or out.

Remember that you do not always have to approve a holiday request, if times are busy and any employees being off could detriment your company it’s ok to say no as long as the employee is given the opportunity to take the leave on another day.

The best way to manage your staff holiday is to make sure to have a proper process and system. We can help you with just the thing if you find that holiday is one for your biggest HR Admin headaches. Please feel free to contact us to find out more!

On the 8th day of cHRistmas my managers said to me “what gifts are we buying everybody?”

You might find it funny to give a friend an inappropriate or cheeky card or present for Christmas, but your employees might be a little offended if they received one. It is important to carefully consider what you gift your employees, especially during the festive season.

In case of gift-giving going wrong, remember to consider the appropriateness of your gift. Food and drink gifts may not be suitable especially for dietary, cultural or personal reasons. Try to make gifts as personal as possible, it goes a long way to show you take notice of the little things your individual employees like.  If this isn’t possible and you buy a standard gift for all, ensure you choose something that everyone will value and perceive as a welcome gift.  Sometimes playing it safe is the best thing to do!

On the 9th day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “we don’t feel well after the Christmas party!”

It’s not as common as you might think for an employee to phone in sick after a Christmas party, but it does happen occasionally – if this is the case then you may want to consider disciplinary action but in many cases a quiet word and a stern look are enough to ensure the time is made up and it doesn’t happen again!  You might think about setting expectations in advance for attendance the day after to do.  Better still – why not agree a late start the morning after the night before?

Even without the other C word sickness rates are always higher at this time of year so we recommend you treat absences as genuine (unless you have absolute cause to do differently) and follow your sickness policy, we would always recommend that you request a self-certificate after any period of sickness absence, they work for reducing non genuine absences.  A back to work interview is also a useful method of ensuring your staff really are well enough to work and also identifying any non-genuine absences.

On the 10th day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “my colleague behaved inappropriately!”

It is the time of year where the annual Christmas party has employees letting their hair down for one night with their colleagues and managers. You’ve arranged a spectacular party to say thank you to your hardworking employees, the drinks begin to flow, inhibitions are lowered and it may only a matter of time before employees are back in the office raising a list of HR issues due to drunken actions.

Without being the fun-police it could be suggested that to prevent any inappropriate alcohol-induced behaviour at the Christmas party, that the alcohol is monitored, you could ask management to keep an eye out for anyone making good use of the bar tab; they can play a significant role in setting a good example. Remind your employees that they still representing the business and set behavioural expectations.

However, if serious issues arise, it is important that the correct grievance and disciplinary action is carried out. Please feel free to contact us if you have any issues or need advice.

On the 11th day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “novelty jumpers just aren’t for me”

It’s suddenly acceptable to wear ridiculous Christmas knitwear to work and some employees may have quite the collection, but it’s not for everyone. It’s important to respect those who may not wish to be involved in all the festive activities. You should also keep an eye out for inappropriate clothing in the workplace. It is not uncommon for employees to test out the limits on “suitable work attire” at this time of year. Woolly knits and sequins are far more work appropriate than a sexy Santa outfit!

Be mindful of anyone who doesn’t celebrate Christmas for cultural or religious reasons, and ensure that those who don’t enjoy the festive season don’t feel excluded and / or pressured to join in.

On the 12th day of cHRistmas my employees said to me “I can’t come to work today, it’s too snowy”

We cannot avoid adverse weather conditions, especially living in the UK! You must recognise that staff may face difficulties attending their place of work during these occasional periods of heavy snow fall, flooding, or other conditions that may result in journeys to work being extremely hazardous.

Employees may be able to work from home if the job role allows this and you may well have this really established after the last two years – if not make plans in advance if it is clear that extremely bad weather is imminent and communicate plans to everyone.

If an employee cannot work from home, they may need to take unpaid leave, annual leave or make the time up. It is important to have a policy in place about adverse weather and how you will manage certain scenarios including what will happen if you decide to close the business due to the weather.

We are of course wishing you a happy and trouble free run up to cHRistmas and a fabulous festive break, but if you do have any queries or concerns about how to manage any employee situations give us call today.

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