An employer’s guide to Christmas employment issues
With Christmas only 4 weeks away, the employment issues surrounding this holiday often create a HR headache for employers. This blog is intended to arm employers with the correct knowledge and guidance to help make the festive season as stress free as possible.
If an employee has normal working hours, overtime usually means any time you work beyond these hours. Normal working hours will be set out within the employment contract. It is important to note, that despite how busy you are with the working year coming to an end, you can not force employees to work overtime unless the employment contract states otherwise.
The Working Time Regulations sets out that employees do not have to work more than 48 hours per week on average. If an employee wishes to work beyond the 48-hour limit, they must put this in writing. This is otherwise known as the opt-out agreement.
2. Managing client gifts
No matter how well intended a client’s gift may be, the potential exists for impropriety. And, whilst it may be flattering to be in receipt of the gift, employers and employees should remain cautious before accepting a client’s token of appreciation. Accepting gifts of high value, could be viewed as something that has potential to influence the professional relationship.
In addition, if a high-valued gift is viewed as giving someone a financial advantage to prompt that person to carry out their duties or activities improperly, accepting the gift may result in an offence under the Bribery Act 2010.
Therefore, all employees should be reminded of the rules and policies on accepting client gifts. For example, all gifts received should be entered into a register and no gifts of a certain value should be accepted without prior consent from a line manager.
3. Winter sickness bugs
With the cold and flu spreading more easily in the winter months, employees are more likely to catch illnesses and pass them on. Given the high costs that are associated with short-term sickness, employers should ensure that they have in place an easily implemented sickness absence policy, including who should be the point of contract during the absence, what evidence will be required, sickness pay details and return to work interviews.
4. Adverse weather conditions
As an employer, it pays to be fully prepared for whatever weather the winter throws at you – whether its wind, rain, storms, snow or ice.
So, what issues should you keep in mind?
• You are not legally obliged to pay employees if they do not come into work because of the weather
• You should have a policy that outlines this
• Try to be flexible where possible – can you both come to a short-term arrangement in which the employee can work from home until the weather improves?
5. Dress code and Christmas jumpers
Some employers choose to relax their dress code at Christmas. Allowing employees to dress down and wear Christmas jumpers can help bring some festive cheer into the workplace. However, employers should be cautious about the wording when notifying employees about this, ensure they know Christmas jumpers and casual dress is optional and not compulsory. In addition, employers should be sensitive to employees who do not celebrate Christmas or do not wish to dress any differently at this time of year.
How can Employment Law Services (ELS) help?
If you are an employer who requires assistance with any of the issues raised in this blog contact us today for your free consultation 0370 218 5662.