Food for thought…..

As an HR practice, we never know what questions and problems our clients are going to call us with, but some this week have been entertaining, thought provoking and quite interesting to answer. I promise, these are genuine…….

Our employees complained about the date of our Xmas party, so we changed it and in doing so had to chose a different venue as the first one was not available for the new date. We have chosen The Shard in London, but a long term employee does not want to go there in case it is attacked by terrorists while we are there. Do we have to change our Xmas party plans again? Everyone else is really excited.

The answer is no. There is nothing contractual or obligatory in a Christmas party, its venue or attendance at the party. Therefore as the employer you extend the invitation to everyone and they each take a personal decision whether or not to attend. Someone may not come as they can’t get a babysitter, someone may not come because partners are not invited, someone else may not attend as they don’t like travelling into central London. While a good employer will try to meet the needs of the majority of staff, it is impossible to keep everyone happy all of the time, so don’t beat yourself up trying.


We are a small employer and only have one employee, a warehouse manager. She is pregnant and at 3 months is finding work too hard. What do we do with her?

In such a small business, this is never a simple problem. In a larger business, you would move a pregnant employee onto lighter duties, perhaps out of the warehouse and into the office. However, in a small business, the warehouse operation must continue and there are no other duties for the employee to carry out. You are not allowed to disadvantage the employee in anyway as a result of their pregnancy and therefore, as the employer you either create a role for the employee, one in which they are not working in the warehouse environment, or you continue to pay them their full salary until their maternity leave starts, but they do not come into work.

The employer can offer the employee reduced hours, but this may not be appropriate or practical. The employer will also probably need to hire a temporary employee to cover the role, but this should be done on a fixed term contract as the employee has the right to return to work following their maternity leave.

There are not really a lot of options in this scenario, but redeployment is the obvious choice where possible as the employee needs to be paid regardless.

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