The Employer’s Christmas Box

Employment | Print Article

December 2023

As we approach the festive season, employers should take note of several key situations that could impact their employment relationships with staff.

The Christmas party

Every year, harassment, including sexual harassment at the Christmas party, is one of the most common complaints that employers receive. This makes it important that employers implement policies that increase awareness and prevent harassment including sexual harassment before the festivities begin.

A key element (or challenge) for employers is to keep the party fun but not let it degenerate because of the introduction of alcohol.

It is also important that employers remember their health and safety and responsible employer obligations both at and following the Christmas party.

The Closedown period

Many employers close down their workplace once a year and this is commonly over the Christmas/New Year period. Workers, who are entitled to annual holidays at the time of the closedown, can be required to take annual holidays or other leave arrangements during the closedown period. The closedown can apply to part or all of the business, but employees must be given at least 14 days’ notice. Whether employees are paid during this period depends on if they have sufficient annual holidays or have otherwise agreed to take annual holidays in advance or unpaid leave.

The Restructure

At this time of the year many businesses review their financial forecasts and staffing needs for the coming year. The result of this review is often a restructuring of jobs and involves redundancies.

A word of warning – employers need to think carefully about putting redundancy in a worker’s Christmas box.

Our redundancy laws are prescriptive. Employers need to comply with the relevant employment agreements and their obligations of good faith in implementing any redundancy. Good faith requires employers to consult with affected staff and provide them with information relating to the restructuring. Consultation should start at an early stage, relate to a proposal (before a decision is made), take place with the employees directly, give employees the opportunity to be represented, provide access to information, provide a genuine opportunity to comment on the proposal, and ensure all feedback is considered before making a decision.

Should you need advice on any of these matters please contact your employment lawyer.