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Yes, it’s December again already and, having only just navigated the potential pitfalls of Black Friday, businesses of all sizes are gearing up for the holiday season.


Party spirit

Love them or loathe them, the company Christmas bash is an institution that has survived wars, pandemics and that Crazy Frog version of Last Christmas.

Whether it’s a couple of pints with the boss down the local or a lavish dinner at a swanky hotel, the work Christmas party is a chance for everyone to forget the day-job and let their hair down... unless you work in HR.

The risks associated with bringing staff together, off-site and plying them with alcoholic beverages have been well documented, and the guidance for employers about how to manage them hasn’t really changed since we wrote about it last year.

However, bosses also need to think about the investment they’re making for such occasions, and the risk that their staff may not get everything the company has paid for.

Socials contracts

The hospitality sector has had a torrid time, between pandemic lockdowns, spiralling costs and staff shortages, which could all lead to contractual issues around big events.

It’s important to establish with suppliers, in advance, exactly what is expected from an event so, if things don’t go right on the big night, there’s less room to debate whether the contract has been fulfilled.

If there are problems on the night, it’s useful to raise any issues with the venue or organiser’s most senior staff on site and give them an opportunity to remedy the situation.

Ultimately, however, if a major problem or, perish the thought, last minute cancellation occurs then it’s probably time to get some legal advice.

Leave it out

Even once the hangovers have abated, bosses may then have to deal with holiday and absence issues.

Whether it’s convenient sickness absence, the day after the party or a dispute over who has to come in to staff the office between Christmas and New Year, any such issues must be resolved promptly, fairly and, where there is any doubt or dispute, with appropriate legal advice.

New year, new law

You might think, after surviving the holiday season, business bosses are entitled to a little respite from potential legal headaches, but there’s often a sprinkling of legislative tweaks to get your head around before the new year kicks off.

While much of the new legislation that will affect businesses, especially employers, tends to come into force in April or October, some is introduced in January.

Thankfully for employers, most of the changes taking effect from next January 1st only clarify the legal position around annual leave entitlement and holiday pay in the light of Brexit and the judgment handed down by the Supreme Court in Harpur Trust v Brazel, in 2019.

There are also some changes to discrimination legislation with amendments to the Equality Act 2010 and a slight easing of the rules around TUPE consultations for small businesses and record keeping requirements for working time.

So, not too much holiday homework then!


Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.


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