Every year at around this time, we receive a lot of questions about workplace issues at Christmas. From parties to time off and everything in between, it can quickly turn into a minefield if you’re not suitably prepared. Is your business really ready for the festive period? Here, we’re going to outline some of the queries that we hear the most, and break down the answers for you.
Do I have to host a workplace party?
You don’t have to offer a party unless a party is agreed to in the contract of employment. It’s worth noting here too though that if you’ve always held an event previously, it may be the case that it’s now expected and most probably looked forward to. It’s true that parties can often throw up a range of HR headaches, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate with your employees and take the opportunity to thank them for their good work throughout the year. You don’t have to break the bank, and it could be a great morale booster.
Do I have to grant all requests for time off over the Christmas break?
No. It’s not always going to be possible to give all members of staff the exact leave that they request, and it goes without saying that you have operational requirements that you need to fulfill. What’s most important here is that your policy around leave requests is very clearly communicated, and that you take a fair approach.
Can I require employees to take annual leave if I close down the place of work?
Yes. If you will be closing the workplace for a period of time over Christmas, you can require staff to take that time out of their leave allocation, as long as there is no agreement to the contrary. You do need to give appropriate notice though, and the arrangements should be covered in your relevant people policies.
What can I do to avoid any problems?
Smart business owners know that handling the Christmas period should never be about hoping for the best, and then firefighting if something goes wrong. Being proactive could save you a load of time, money, and hassle.
Take the opportunity now to ensure that any relevant policies are up to date, that your line managers are onboard, and that you’ve pinpointed how to minimise any risk. You may want to consider issuing a statement to staff about acceptable codes of behaviour ahead of any functions or events.
If you know that you need to do some work to ensure that the festive season passes by without any hiccups, get in touch. We can help you to make any necessary changes, and provide you with the practical guidance you need.