top of page

Christmas in the workplace

It’s that time of year when Christmas comes to the workplace. To join in with the season of goodwill, many employers will encourage a few special “events” including a Christmas party, having Secret Santa, Christmas bonus, early salary payment, Christmas shutdown etc. There are a few pitfalls to be aware of and by considering our advice, you should have a lot of joy in the workplace at Christmas.

Your team

With a diverse workforce, it’s important to remember not everyone celebrates Christmas. It’s always worth checking with your team.

Christmas Party

This may be in the workplace, at a hired venue or even an organised (good intentions) pub crawl. Morale is usually high so it’s important to minimise any staffing issues that may arise as a direct result of the celebrations and make sure your “party” is full of sparkle not sorrow when everyone sobers up.

Everyone should be made aware that any Christmas event that is work related is an extension of the workplace and as such Employers are liable for third party actions.

Also consider whether a Christmas party is the way your staff want to celebrate the festive season? Why not ask your team for their suggestions, maybe form a works choir and arrange carol singing at residential homes, taking gifts for the residents or making Christmas boxes for the homeless? Whatever you decide to do, remember:

  • Events are not compulsory and not everyone may want / can attend

  • Ensure non-alcoholic drinks are available as well as alcoholic

  • If food is on the menu, ensure all dietary requirements are catered for

  • If you have staff with disabilities, ensure the event is accessible for everyone

  • Be aware of drinking laws if you have under 18’s in your workforce

What else should you do to ensure Christmas Sparkle not Sorrow?

  • Remind staff that normal rules of behaviour apply even off the premises and that the party venue is an extension of the workplace. As an employer you have a duty of care, so you are still responsible at the Company’s Christmas Party.

  • Remind managers not to make any promises they can’t keep. i.e. pay rises / promotions.

  • Remind staff about discrimination and sex discrimination policies. They need to be reminded that any inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas Party is considered in the same way as working hours.

  • Remind staff not to drink and drive and to make suitable arrangements to get home if they want to drink. Consider the use of organising a mini bus to pick up and take people home. If you don’t want to fund this then you could offer to arrange/organise this for staff on the basis that they will have to pay for this service. Have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available.

  • Inform staff that over indulging at the Christmas Party doesn’t excuse them from coming into work the next day. If you operate a Monday to Friday business consider holding the event either on a Friday or Saturday night.

  • Remind staff of the risk of being over the limit the morning after drinking.

  • Don’t forget to invite staff who are on Maternity /Paternity. You must also include Agency workers, fixed term temporary and part time staff.

  • Do not make it compulsory to attend. It might clash with non-Christian religious dates.

  • If you employee under 18 years olds you need to consider the venue if you hold it off work premises to ensure that they allow under 18’s on the premises.

  • If you are providing alcoholic drinks don’t provide them free all night. Speak with the Bar staff so that they can remain vigilant in case any staff are drunk.

  • If an employee becomes intoxicated it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is taken home safely.

  • Remind the workforce that use of illegal drugs at any work-related event is not permissible.

Secret Santa

Set out a couple of general rules:

  • A price limit, e.g. no more than £5 per gift.

  • Make the gift appropriate – remember not everyone has the same sense of humour

Christmas Bonus / early salary payments

Employers give out bonuses and make salary payments earlier than normal at Christmas, as a reward and to help their team over what can be an expensive time of the year. Make sure you:

  • Communicate your intentions – let people know what payments they are getting and when as soon as possible

Christmas shutdown

If your business shuts down for Christmas or if you operate on “skeleton” staff, it’s important to:

  • Communicate your plans at the earliest opportunity

  • Ensure the holiday booking off process is fair for everyone – maybe use a rota system for Christmas leave

Just a few simple steps to help keep the Christmas party festive and full of sparkle.

Merry Christmas from JG HR Solutions Limited

bottom of page