Legal Pitfalls of Christmas

Peninsula Team

December 09 2012

In order to have a risk free workplace Christmas, employers would be wise to bear in mind the following:

Consider other religions – Remember to think about dietary requirements involved with some religions when putting on food and drink for the office party. Make sure there are enough non-alcoholic beverages for those who do not drink alcohol

Sufficient staffing – If you remain open over Christmas and have a maximum quota for staff absence, ensure you stick to it to avoid being overstretched. If staff still have some of their annual leave entitlement to take before the Christmas period, encourage them to take it beforehand, or allow carry over to the next leave year of any remaining holiday which is permitted by law

Sensible partying – Remind your staff that some normal rules apply during the Christmas party, including, importantly, those relating to unacceptable behaviour towards colleagues. Christmas parties are likely to be considered an extension of the workplace, even if taking place in a different location, so your equal opportunities policy will still apply. Consider electing one or two members of management who are designated non-drinkers for the evening, so that they can keep an eye on the whole event

Practical present giving – If you are entering into an office wide Secret Santa exercise, make sure all participants know how much they are expected to spend. Don’t set the level too high in order to avoid embarrassment of those who may find the cost prohibitive. Reinforce dignity at work rules and put a ban on anything risqué or offensive

Better Bonuses – If you offer discretionary Christmas bonuses to your staff, ensure you don’t discriminate in your decisions over who should receive one and who shouldn’t

Watch the weather – If snow or flooding prevents your workers from attending the workplace, consider alternative plans rather than immediately marking them down as on unpaid leave. See if they can work from home, or take the day as annual leave, or ask them if they could make up their time on other days

For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.

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