Christmas guide for employers

Employers during the festive period should be aware of their role and responsibilities during the festive season – so, we are here to provide some crucial insight.

Here is a quick recap of issues to keep in mind:

On the first day of Christmas, employers must make sure they know who is working and who is not. Early organisation of shifts and annual leave will help keep conflict to a minimum. If there’s a requirement for workers to save holiday from their annual leave entitlement to be taken during a holiday shut down, make this clear in any contractual documentation.

On the second day of Christmas, oh the weather outside is ‘frightful’ and the lure of a warm workplace ‘delightful’! Employers should be aware that they must ensure, under HSE regulations, that the temperature in the workplace cannot be below 16 degrees centigrade for office workers.

On the third day of Christmas, speaking of frightful weather, employers should also be aware that adverse conditions can affect public transport and other means of getting to work. Therefore, there should be a degree of flexibility with regards to alternative options – such as working from home.

On the fourth day of Christmas, if there’s a need for extra staff over the holiday period, plan ahead with recruitment drives.

On the fifth day of Christmas, if staff need to work compulsory overtime during the festive period, make sure their contracts make this clear. Failure to follow contractual obligations could lead to disciplinary action – and potentially termination for staff who breach the terms.

On the sixth day of Christmas, gifts from suppliers and providers abound – ensure all staff are aware of the company anti-bribery policy which should be in place.

On the seventh day of Christmas, employers may have staff asking for time-off or to come into work a little late/leave earlier, in order to attend their youngster’s Nativity. Whilst there is no statutory right to time-off in this regard, be flexible and keep in mind staff morale if requests are unreasonably refused.

On the eighth day of Christmas, it’s time for ‘Secret Santa’! However, make sure everyone is aware that offensive or inappropriate gifts are a no-no.

On the ninth day of Christmas, its office party time. Think about whether the organisation needs a workplace social events policy. Make sure staff are aware that their conduct during any work-related social events should be non-discriminatory, and that professional standards should be maintained. Employers can be held vicariously liable for discriminatory acts by employees.

On the tenth day of Christmas, make sure everyone is aware of the company social media policy – and any abuse thereof in respect of any pictures or comments made about work-related social events.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, hangovers from festive parties might be unavoidable but keep an eye and ear out for any potential consequences/gossip from the event that could lead to disciplinary action.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, remember to have fun and happy holidays!


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Author: Rafia Ahmad

Senior Solicitor, ESP Law Ltd

Rafia trained and qualified with Wedlake Bell LLP, a London City law firm where she was an employment solicitor for six years before moving to the fast paced trading floor of Cantor Fitzgerald LLP, a London based New York prime brokerage/investment bank as in-house employment counsel. Prior to joining ESP, Rafia was a senior employment solicitor for five years with Backhouse Jones, the UK’s number one national road transport law firm. She advises on all employment matters both contentious and non-contentious including tribunal proceedings.

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