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Think Christmas is over? Think again!

6.01.2016

So the decorations are down and the New Year stretches ahead, but what issues need to be resolved from the Christmas festivities?

Here are a few common queries we receive at this time of year.

An employee posted drunken photos online after the Christmas party, what should we do and is there any way of avoiding this?

The only way to avoid this is to ban mobile phones and cameras but on the basis that is unrealistic, the best way to avoid this type of issue is to have a social media policy.  This should make it clear that disciplinary action may follow if employees post comments or photos which bring the company into disrepute.  If you have one in place, remind staff that it applies equally to the Christmas party as it does to the workplace. You can consider disciplinary action against the employee but a quiet word should ensure the photos are taken down quickly.

An employee has accused one of our managers of inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas party, which took place in the evening at a local hotel. Does the Company have any responsibility for this?
    
   
If you organised the party then the answer generally is yes.  Employment law applies even when the party takes place outside of the workplace or outside of working hours.  This means that you are responsible for employee actions in exactly the same way as if they took place in the office or any other place of work. 

Therefore when faced with an allegation arising from incidents at the Christmas party, you must investigate after the event as you would any other workplace grievance or disciplinary and follow up with a disciplinary procedure if necessary.

Several employees called in sick in the break between Christmas and New Year with food poisoning. I strongly suspect that they were not ill, what can I do about this?

This is very difficult as without evidence, it is difficult to impose sanctions on a suspicion. Most sick policies allow self certification for a few days so no doctor’s note will be available. It might be worth a strongly worded email to all staff, reminding them that it has been noticed that there was a higher than usual level of absence during that period, which has put the business and its service levels at risk.  At very least you may be able to shame someone into thinking twice in the future.  Alternatively consider an annual shut down asking employees to reserve their holiday to cover the gap.  At least then you will be prepared.

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