‘Tis the season to be jolly and merry. With everyone on the countdown to Christmas, we at HR Services Scotland Ltd thought we should outline as to what is and what is not acceptable behaviour from your employees, this will help avoid any mishaps dampening the Christmas spirit.
HR Services Scotland Ltd has put together a few tips that can help you through the festive season:
- Office parties – by having an office party or a client social event, employers and employees need to remember that they are still representing the company. Employers should be providing a clear policy on the standards of behaviour that will be expected at the Christmas party and what kinds of behaviour are unacceptable and will not be tolerated. A little reminder to staff that any misconduct will result in the usual disciplinary procedures.
A risk that can often be heightened by alcohol at the Christmas party is sexual harassment, and it is essential that employers are aware that they can be found liable for not providing adequate protection for an employee.
Employers also have a duty of care to employees and they could consider hiring a mini bus or taxis after an event to ensure that everyone gets home safely. At the party an employer could nominate themselves or a member of the management team as being responsible for monitoring the activities of staff and their intake of alcohol.
- Time keeping – during December 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 staff turning up late for work the following day. As an employer you must ensure that your make clear to employees that the same standards are expected during the holiday period, as they are year round.
It should be reiterated to employees that should they be late or fail to attend work, due to a Christmas night out or over consumption of alcohol, the relevant management action will be taken.
- Religion and diversity – More often than not, Christmas festivities can 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 participate in the festivities if they do not wish to do so, and a reminder that all religions should be respected and embraced. Although it is often called a ‘Christmas’ party, they tend not to have a religious aspect to it, however, when organising the party, please ensure that date, venue, times, menu are suitable so everyone is able to take part.
- Holidays – businesses that keep their offices open over the Christmas period may have issues arising from dealing with conflicting holiday requests from employees who all want the same time off. During the Christmas season, this should not be treated differently from other times of the year, so please 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 employees for their hard work throughout the year with a bonus or gift, please remember the tax rules still apply during this period.
Also a reminder to all 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 the morale and thanking your employees for all their hard work and efforts over the previous year.
However, please remember that as an employer you can be held vicariously liable for the actions of your employees at office parties, especially if those actions are deemed to have been committed in the course of employment, therefore having the right policies in place and making sure that you as an employer and your employees are aware of what is expected is vital.
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 069 8970