Christmas time is an important period for HR, it can throw up several issues which are specific to Christmas. Some of these issues include: Religion, holiday request, Christmas bonuses and Christmas parties.
A big issue which businesses must face during the Christmas period is religion. In a diverse workplace many businesses may have people of several different religions and cultures who all celebrate Christmas or winter festivals differently. It is important that the business is aware of these religious festivals and cultures and where possible tries to accommodate them.
So how do you avoid the courts around Christmas? Firstly, it is important to set out guidelines in order to prevent inappropriate secret Santa gifts. A survey of 650 firms by HR and employment law specialists Citation found 5 per cent now had a policy in place to guide employees in their festive gift-giving. But more worryingly, 71 per cent weren’t aware that as an employer they could be held liable if an employee received an offensive gift.
Although the Christmas party can seem like an enjoyable time of the year for many, it can be a serious problem for business and the HR sector. Recently, a recruitment company had been found liable for the actions of a Managing Director who assaulted an employee in a Christmas party and left him with brain damage. The ruling overturned a previous decision by the High Court and clarified that businesses can be held vicariously liable in some circumstances for the actions of their employees even if they take place outside the workplace. Although Christmas parties do tend to happen outside of the workspace this shows that now business are liable for how their employees behave outside of work. Christmas parties however are not all doom and gloom. In many cases they can be highly rewarding for HR, as the Christmas party can build bonds between employees and help morale.
Finally, it is important to consider the morning after the Christmas party. In the unlikely event festivities do get out of hand, HR needs to safeguard against the consequences of excessive partying. According to research by Willis Towers Watson, almost a quarter (24 per cent) of 18 to 34-year-olds say they have gone into work still feeling drunk after boozy nights out over the past 12 months. This figure falls to 12 per cent among the over-35s. This can not only be a problem within the workplace but also outside of work with alcohol offenses such as drink driving. Data from the Government’s THINK! campaign, published in December 2015, revealed that in 2013 an estimated 740 reported drink drive collisions took place in the morning, and around 5,500 people fail breathalyser tests between 6am and midday every year.
For more information:
Personnel Today – https://www.personneltoday.com/topics/employment-law/employers-guides/employers-guide-to-christmas-employment-issues/
People Management – https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/how-to-survive-christmas-without-ending-up-court
People Management – https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/news/articles/recruiter-liable-party-fight-employee-brain-damage
Morning After – http://morning-after.org.uk/?page_id=2