Christmas parties

Christmas Party – Remember It For The Right Reasons

30 Nov
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Christmas, Employees, Health and Safety   |  No Comments

It is the last day of November. For many, this is payday, for others it is invoicing day and for some…. It is the official start of the festive season.

Over the years we have seen some pretty fantastic Christmas parties. We have also seen some lovely intimate low key affairs where the team come together and celebrate the past year and its successes.

While you are not operating a school, all employers have a legal responsibility and duty of care towards their staff and that is not just Monday – Friday 9 – 5, but includes work functions such as the Christmas party. While you may not want to organise the ‘personal’ life of your employees and may believe that they are all grown up enough to look after themselves, if an accident or incident happens and the employer has not taken due care, the employer can become liable. Ensure that you have considered and talked about all of the relevant issues with your staff before the party and they know what they are responsible for and what failure to comply might mean.

Here are some top tips for making sure your work Christmas party is one to remember rather than one you wish to forget:

  1. Make sure everyone is invited and made to feel welcome
    • remember not everyone celebrates Christmas, so how can you make it more inclusive?
  2. Think carefully about whether partners are invited and if so, who pays for them?
  3. Be mindful about your venue
    • Is it easy to get to / return from on public transport?
    • Can people stay over if they chose to?
    • Is there ample parking for those who prefer to drive?
    • If your team is widely spread, is it accessible to everyone and will expenses be paid to those who don’t live locally who wish to attend?
  4. Menu planning – LONG gone are the days where everyone will sit down to eat a traditional Christmas Dinner
    • Make sure you understand what your staff can and can not eat, from both a dietary and religious perspective.
    • Is there a vegetarian/vegan option?
    • Is there a free from option?
    • Are the Canapes clearly marked
    • Are the caterers and their staff carefully briefed – nut allergies are life-threatening and the impact of a careless caterer is not to be underestimated.
  5. Alcohol planning – I am not going to try to tell you that your event needs to be alcohol-free as that would just be Humbug at this time of year! However, there are some considerations
    • What is a reasonable amount of alcohol per person?
    • Who is paying for it?
    • Are people allowed to buy more for themselves once the ‘paid for’ bar has been used
    • Is anyone going to stop people drinking if and when they think they have had too much
  6. How are people getting home?
    • Are cabs booked in advance to take people home or is a local cab company on standby with sufficient cars?
    • Is a coach being arranged to drop people at a central point and if so, what happens from there?
    • Will someone be responsible for ensuring that no one is driving either their own or a company vehicle while under the influence of alcohol
  7. Are staff (and management) expected at work the next day – not every party can be on a Friday night and not every business is shut at the weekend
    • This is a case of one rule for all. No discrimination based on length of service or seniority in the business. If your business is open the next day, your staff need to be there in a fit state to work just like on any other day
      • If staff do not turn up – what is the impact?
      • If staff turn up too tired or unwell – what is the impact?
    • Will you allow people to book the ‘day after the night before’ off as a holiday and what is the impact on your business?
      • Will normal holiday booking procedures apply?
    • Managing the fallout – while we sincerely hope there is no fall out from your work Christmas party, many years of experience tells us otherwise. So what do you need to consider in managing the fallout?
      • Treating everyone equally and fairly
      • Following and complying with your own policies and procedures
      • Health and safety implications for employees, clients and other third parties
      • Financial damage
      • Reputational damage

I don’t mean to scare you, and many employers believe it will never happen to them, but it

can and it does. With over 25 years in HR and Management and as head of an HR practice for over 11 years, I never cease to be amazed by what I see and hear, especially around Christmas. I think I have seen it all and then something else happens and as HR, we often end up trying to pick up the pieces and keep our clients (the Businesses) out of trouble, helping them to make their workplace a better place to be.

As with all aspects of business life, Proper Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance. Plan your Christmas party, get advice if you need it but have an amazing festive celebration that ALL your staff remember for the RIGHT reasons which keeps them engaged in 2019.

PeopleTalk – December 2011

06 Dec
by Donna Obstfeld, posted in Newsletter   |  No Comments

 Welcome to the December issue of PeopleTalk

Welcome to the last edition of Peopletalk this year, and what a year it’s been. As we prepare for the final push towards Christmas and start thinking about our New Year’s resolutions, we’d like to share some important advice with you to make sure you’re fully covered against many a festive faux pas. We’d also like to remind you that if you’re planning a review of your Human Resource policies at the start of 2012, contact us as soon as possible so that we can help you get off to the best possible start next year.


Planning for Christmas shut down

For those of you who are still in denial, Christmas is less than three weeks away!!! Have you identified which days you will be open and when you’re closed? Have you communicated this to your staff in writing? Monday and Tuesday 26th and 27th are both Bank Holidays, so is Monday 2nd January. Make sure you are clear with staff which days they are working and where appropriate, confirm their rates of pay. While we are on the issue of holidays, the public and bank holidays for 2012 are as follows:

  • 2nd January (Monday) Public Holiday (in lieu of New Years Day)
  • 6th April (Friday) Good Friday
  • 9th April (Monday) Easter Monday
  • 7th May (Monday) May Day
  • 4th June (Monday) Bank Holiday (in lieu of Whit Monday)
  • 5th June (Tuesday) Diamond Jubilee Public Holiday
  • 27th August (Monday) Late Summer Public Holiday
  • 25th December (Tuesday) Christmas Day
  • 26th December (Wednesday) Boxing Day

If you need assistance calculating annual leave for part time or zero hour staff, please get in touch email

Carry Forward Holiday

In line with the Working Time Directive, employees must take all their statutory annual leave within the correct year and can not roll it forward or borrow from the following year (as that will leave them short). If you provide your employees with more than 28 days per year, you have the flexibility to allow them to roll some days forward, as long as they have had 28days, including public and bank holidays within the current year.

If your holiday years runs from January to December, you need to be reminding employees to book and use outstanding holidays. It is your responsibility to ensure they use their entitlement.


Christmas Parties

Even when companies are spending less and everyone is cutting back, many companies still holding an office Christmas party. They may cut some of the costs by not inviting partners, by having a buffet rather than a sit down dinner or having a small catered onsite party rather than a venue or restaurant, but Christmas parties are still seen as a good thing to do for morale and team building.

Christmas parties can however lead to problems, especially when people start drinking. If you are organising a Christmas party, you may want to think about some the following aspects:

What sort of party is appropriate?

  • – If you are cutting salaries, hours, pensions etc. is it appropriate to hold an extravagant Christmas party? Probably not, but it doesn’t mean don’t hold one.
  • – If you are a charity, should employees fund their own tickets rather than taking from charity funds?

Who to invite?

  • – Employers need to ensure that everyone feels included. Don’t leave people outassuming its ‘not their thing’, invite them and let them decide
  • – Decide whether partners will be included?
  • – Some companies hold activities for the children of employees – just think about how to include those without children and perhaps allow grandchildren, nieces and nephews

If you are on company premises, what are the implications?

  • – Will you serve alcohol?
  • – Do you need to continue to offer a service to customers during your party?
  • – Who will clear up?

How will people get home safely after the party?

  • – This could be due to alcohol, the time the party finishes or even the location
  • – Will the company provide taxis or access to taxis?
  • – Would a coach be appropriate?

However you decide to organise your Christmas party and whatever form it takes, keep it inclusive and plan every aspect in detail.

London 2012

Don’t forget that London hosts the 2012 Olympics – and we want to makes sure you don’t find yourself with staff playing games. If you don’t already have one, you need a policy on absence and plan for access to work. It is going to happen and you need to “Olympic-proof” your business. For help and advice, give us a call or email

Snow Days

In the UK, we’re not very good at planning for bad weather. It seems to catch us unprepared every year! With weather forecasters claiming the mildest autumn and predicting the coldest winter, many people, animals and plants are completely confused.

Employers are no exception and need to put in place plans to ensure their businesses can stay open whatever the weather throws at them. It is not always possible for staff to work from home, but modern technology certainly makes it easier.

Where staff are in retail outlets, manufacturing sites or service centres such as hospitals, it is essential to ensure that staff come to work only when it is safe for them to do so. Alternatively, your business continuity planning process can include: Putting staff up in local hotels or B&Bs; arranging group travel; ensuring roads, entrances and pathways are clear; and having your boiler serviced now to ensure it will cope with a long hard winter.

Make sure you have ample supplies in case staff get stranded at work and ensure you heed the advice of local news and weather alerts.

DOHR Christmas Cover

The DOHR offices will be shut from 15th December 2011 – 3rd January 2012. In case of emergency you can call 01923 504100 and leave a message. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible. We would like to take this opportunity to wish our readers all the very best for the festive season and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2012.