Christmas Considerations For HR
Author: Swyn Llyr
Key Contact: Claire Knowles
The holiday season is upon us and, whilst it’s a wonderful time of the year, it can also be a particularly stressful time for employers and HR professionals.
To make the festive season as stress-free as possible and to protect your organisation from being the subject of potential grievances or Employment Tribunal claims, you should take the following into consideration:
- If your business will be closing between the Christmas and New Year period, make sure to communicate to your employees whether annual leave will be automatically deducted from their holiday balance. Equally, let them know if they’ll receive an extra day off during the Christmas shutdown period.
- Absences are common during this time due to a combination of seasonal illnesses and hangovers. If employees don’t show up to work, ensure compliance with your attendance management policy, and consider whether the absence should be deemed as unauthorised, or not. Similarly, you should remind employees of the importance of providing you with up-to-date fitness notes to cover any period of absence.
- The festive period can be a tricky season for working parents as they try to juggle work commitments combined with childcare responsibilities during the school holidays. You may notice some distracted working parents as they try to balance work and family life. Embrace flexibility and consider temporarily adjusting an employee’s working hours to better suit their desired schedule or use a combination of core and flexible hours so that employees can shape their working hours to suit their needs around this time of the year.
- Be culturally sensitive and mindful of others. Think about your employees on long-term sick leave, pregnant women, those on maternity leave, those with childcare responsibilities who cannot socialise outside office hours, and members of religious groups for whom alcohol is prohibited or Christmas is not celebrated. Take the focus away from the bottle and, instead, use the festive period as an opportunity to celebrate the success of 2023.
- Whilst the chance of having a white Christmas is slim for 2023, we’re likely to experience adverse weather here in England and Wales sometime this winter. If so, a flexible approach to working arrangements may be necessary to accommodate the difficulties faced and to protect the health and safety of your employees, while keeping business as usual. Employees should make a genuine effort to report for work as normal but, equally, you should not encourage employees to travel when it’s not safe. When agreeing alternative arrangements, you should take into account individual circumstances, including the distance employees have to travel, local conditions, and the status of roads and public transport before reaching any conclusion.