Xmas Party HR Rules

All I want for Christmas is…


Our partners at People Puzzles, the HR Consultancy, wrote this great article on top tips for businesses over the festive period.

Well, I’m sure it’s not really us and I’m positive it’s not a sexual harassment claim, an increase in sickness or a Christmas party that everyone is talking about for the wrong reasons!

With Christmas fast approaching and everyone getting into the party spirit it is important to remember as an employer you can end up being liable for the actions of your employees with an increased risk of issues arising during this festive period.

We don’t want to be party poopers but here are some top tips to keep everyone full of the Christmas cheer.

Tip 1: Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go…

Sometimes the workplace has to be open and as the boss you can only allow a few people to take time off. Consider the following when making your Christmas working plans:

• If you are open over the Christmas period make sure the expectations are set and communicated early. Don’t rota employees on the Christmas shifts just because they do not belong to a faith or belief that recognises Christmas. Talk to employees about rotas and try, wherever possible, to use volunteers rather than co-opting people in
• If you allow people to take holiday over Christmas make sure your system for approving leave is clear, transparent and communicated as early in the year as possible
• Remember not everyone has the same beliefs or faith and therefore you need to be aware how any of your actions may affect them – for example forcing people to take leave now may mean they’re short when they may need it for their own activities. Try to consult with your employees to minimise the risk of repercussions in these situations

Tip 2: Party time!!

The aim of the party is to reward the team, and to relax and unwind after a stressful year, and remembering a few things could help to ensure that 2016 doesn’t start off with a drama:

• Be careful not to share anything you wouldn’t in the office, such as confidential information or personal opinions of other employees. You should reiterate to your managers that they should be leading by example
• Consider issuing guidelines to employees ahead of the Christmas party. Remind employees in advance that the party is a work-based event and that they are expected to comply with the accepted standards of conduct in your workplace
• If you are supplying alcohol for the event remember it could be argued that you condone any unruly behaviour as a result of this. You may even run the risk of being the ringleader creating mischief! Consider how food and alcohol is served so people can enjoy themselves without making a mess.

Tip 3: Secret Santa

Who doesn’t like Secret Santa? Probably the shy, quiet administrator that has just received raunchy underwear as her gift in front of the whole office. Here are some tips to keep everyone smiling after they’ve received their gift:

• Whilst funny to the giver or the rest of the team, gifts of underwear and sex toys often spark employee complaints, so remind employees to keep it appropriate
• Santa should not ask any member of staff to sit on his or her knee, unless you fancy a harassment claim coming your way

Tip 4: Too much partying??

I’m sure we’ve all been there, one drink too many or a dodgy turkey sandwich…..you will no doubt be aware of the excuses over the Christmas period but follow these pointers and hopefully your attendance levels will be healthy over the period;

• Prior to the festivities, remind staff of your procedures relating to sickness absence. A refresher email or memo will ensure people have no reason to say they didn’t know the policy
• If you have a Christmas party be clear of the expectations for the next day – can they come in late? Can they take the day off? Decide your position, and explain the process regarding unauthorised absence, including the possibility of disciplinary action

Tip 5: What is socially unacceptable?

Social media is a huge part of everyday life now and there are risks you should be aware of especially at the Christmas party:

• Photos of colleagues misbehaving at the work party posted on social networking sites, websites and blogs could cause grievances: check your Social Media policy
• Remind your employees that the company policy on harassment and bullying extends to social media

Tip 6: Party policies

While party policies may seem ‘bah humbug and Scrooge-like’, they are a valuable precaution for you to demonstrate that reasonable action has been taken to protect employees and yourself. Make sure all of yours are up to date and communicated in advance of the festive season.

Tip 7: Cheers, and a Happy New Year!

So having taking the above advice, sit back and enjoy the festivities with a mince pie (or three!) along with your favourite tipple.

We hope the end of 2015 pans out stress and incident free for you but if you come back in January and find someone on the naughty list do not hesitate to give us a call! You can contact People Puzzles on 020 3239 3307 or email hello@peoplepuzzles.co.uk