Avoiding Workplace Christmas Pitfalls

It’s that time of year again when people are gearing up towards a well-earned break. What with outstanding holidays that have to be used up before the end of the year and the Christmas party to organise, how do you make sure everything goes smoothly?

 

Annual Leave

Due to work commitments employees didn’t have time to take all their holidays during the course of the year and are now trying to cram them in before the end of December or risk losing them.

 

What can you do to prevent being short-staffed?

Use your discretion.  It states in your Company Handbook that all leave must be taking during the year it is accrued, but you genuinely cannot afford for staff to be taking time off. So, what do you do? Consider allowing a certain amount of days to be carried forward into the next year but state they must be taken within a certain timeframe.  The other alternative is paying staff for holidays which they have not been able to take (although this shouldn’t set a precedent for employees not taking annual leave in future in the hope of being paid instead!). Also, avoid showing favouritism towards members of staff. You may also want to consider, or already have, seasonal shutdowns or holiday embargos during this time.

 

The office ‘do’

Who doesn’t like to let their hair down a bit in the run up to the festive period? Unfortunately, at the works annual bash, things can sometimes get out of hand, but what can you do to minimise any disruption to the company?
Remember to consider all your employees in relation to sex, age, race, disability and those who are on long-term leave (ie maternity) and:-

  • organise a venue that is appropriate for all attendees
  • ensure the venue of choice does not have any restrictions for under 18’s should you have any on your workforce
  • remind any under 18’s that they should not drink any alcohol
  • cater for all culinary differences
  • check accessibility is available for any disabled employees
  • do not exclude anybody by forgetting to invite them

Not following the above may lead to discrimination claims against the company.

 

One too many?

We’ve all seen it… employees having taken advantage of a free bar. Unfortunately, being under the influence can lead to undesirable scenarios:-

  • The employee who finally lets you know what they think of you/the Company
  • The Sales Rep ‘landing one’ on the Accounts Assistant who once got his commission payment wrong
  • Unwanted amorous advances towards members of the opposite (or same!) sex
  • Employees thinking they are not over the legal drink drive limit

 

How to (try) and prevent this:-

  • Instruct bar staff not to serve anybody who has clearly had enough already
  • Forewarn employees that any unacceptable incidents will be dealt with in accordance with the company’s disciplinary procedure
  • Ensure plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks are available
  • Consider providing free transport or hotel rooms depending on budget

 

Also, don’t forget to remind employees that failure to turn up for work the day after the Christmas party, without a genuine reason, will be treated as unauthorised. Alternatively, consider holding the party on a day when the day after is not usually worked!