Tips on how employers can try and avoid pitfalls while still partaking in the Christmas spirit!
Don’t offer alcohol
Having an alcohol-free event is obviously not always a popular suggestion; however it is one of the best ways to minimise risk for employers, particularly in today’s multi-cultural society where increasing numbers of people don’t partake of the ‘Christmas spirits’ anyway.
As an employer, you have an obligation to keep your employees safe whilst they’re at work, and there is still a supervisory responsibility even when you are hosting the Christmas party.
Hold your party off-site
This won’t absolve the employer of all responsibility but , the restaurant would be considered the provider of alcohol and therefore would assume some of the responsibility for refusing to serve someone when they’ve had too much to drink.
However this is still likely to count as a ‘work’ event and therefore some supervisory liability could still exist for the employer. The employer would still need to take steps for example if say an employee is visibly intoxicated, and not in a position to drive home. As an employer, you can’t simply turn a blind eye.
Hold a lunch or breakfast party
Common sense dictates that daytime parties discourage heavy drinking or pre-drinking. Some employers have been known to host “active” events such as skiing parties, or go karting.
Have a plan for employees who have had too much to drink
Consider offering either somewhere to stay for the evening or transportation to and from the event so people don’t feel compelled to get back in their car after the event and drive themselves home.
Pre-book mini buses / taxis, or book a few hotel rooms nearby in case people need to spend the night.
Invite spouses or families
Aside from excessive drinking, the most common problem that typically arises from office Christmas parties is sexual harassment. Typically the frequency of sexual harassment claims are dramatically reduced at Christmas parties when spouses are included. This can backfire however, if bored spouses are left by the bar while their other halves enjoy themselves only to object, violently, at the end of the evening. Best used in conjunction with a limited bar!
Employees are still bound by workplace policies, even at after-hours parties
A Christmas party does not give an employee free rein to do or say things that would never be tolerated in the workplace, nor does it give an employer the same right. An employee can still be disciplined for conduct that occurs at a company Christmas party.
Be careful about any false promises you make whilst in the party spirit
There is no rule that prevents promises made at the Christmas Party from being unenforceable, provided there is a clear intent for them to be binding. Telling Joe from accounts that he is “your bestest friend in the world” and that you will double his pay in the New Year may come back to bite you.
As always, employing people can be a minefield but it’s up to you to decide what level of risk you are comfortable with and ensure that your employees know what is expected of them before the celebrations commence.
It can be tempting to assume that we’re all grown-ups and common sense will prevail, but unfortunately at this time of year it often doesn’t. As a Tribunal claim makes for a pretty rubbish Christmas present, it’s best to be prepared!
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Five Key Skills for Raising Emotional Intelligence
In the words of Jeremy Clarkson (Top Gear), “Some say”, when it comes to happiness and success in life, emotional intelligence (EQ) matters just as much as intellectual ability (IQ). Emotional intelligence helps you build stronger relationships, succeed at work, and achieve your career and personal goals.
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, use, understand, and manage emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathize with others, overcome challenges, and defuse conflict. Emotional intelligence impacts many different aspects of your daily life, such as the way you behave and the way you interact with others.
Emotional intelligence consists of four attributes:
Why is emotional intelligence (EQ) so important?
As we know, it’s not the smartest people that are the most successful or the most fulfilled in life. You probably know people who are academically brilliant and yet are socially inept and unsuccessful at work or in their personal relationships. Intellectual intelligence (IQ) isn’t enough on its own to be successful in life. Yes, your IQ can help you get into college, but it’s your EQ that will help you manage the stress and emotions when facing your final exams.
Emotional intelligence affects:
Developing emotional intelligence through five key skills:
Emotional intelligence (EQ) consists of five key skills, each building on the last:
How to learn the five key skills of emotional intelligence
The five skills of emotional intelligence can be learned by anyone, at any time. There is a difference, however, between learning about emotional intelligence and applying that knowledge to your life. Just because you know you should do something doesn’t mean you will—especially when you become overwhelmed by stress, which can hijack your best intentions.
In order to permanently change behaviour in ways that stand up under pressure, you need to learn how to take advantage of the powerful emotional parts of the brain that remain active and accessible even in times of stress. This means that you can’t simply read about emotional intelligence in order to master it. You have to experience and practice the skills in your everyday life.
Contact us to Learn more about why emotional intelligence is so important and how you can boost your own EQ by mastering the five core skills.
SPARKS FLY AT THE GUY FAWKES’ TRIBUNAL!
Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot ……. But imagine what might happen in present day to Guy and his fellow conspirators – here what it could look like ….
· Guy would have had protection under religious discrimination laws due to his opposing views to the incumbent King (Catholic versus Protestant) – so it would have been wiser for Guy to put his grievances in writing first and have them dealt with that way.
· Although conversely, his dismissal (or in his case being hung, drawn and quartered) would have a potential sanction for the lack of risk assessment and method statement when dealing with high explosives and gunpowder – had he been trained in Health and Safety issues?
· He was discovered in a dark, dank cellar with all of his gunpowder and matches, but he had been there in excess of the 48 hour Working Time Directive legislation – had he signed a Working Time Directive Opt Out Form?
· Was Guy bullied into being the one to light the match at the right time? Was he being harassed by someone to “prove himself”?
· Clearly there was an issue of poor communications and lack of team dynamics in the group as he was caught!
· Also, Guy did not act alone and a full-scale investigation should have taken place prior to any disciplinary sanction (or in his case death sentence) being evoked as opposed to torture in the Tower of London. The tribunal would not see this as reasonable actions of the employer to elicit a confession!
So if you know of any businesses that feel like they are losing the plot when dealing with their workforce, get them to give the HR Dept a call!
WHO CARES! – AM I BOVVERED – CAN WE FIX IT
YES WE CAN!!!
Do you know that there are around 20,000 people in the UK suffering from dementia and in need of care? This is a problem that employers cannot ignore. Indeed the government is calling for employers to make allowances for employees who have care responsibilities, whilst trying to hold down a job at the same time.
I know that many businesses, especially small to medium ones, groan when they get a request in for “flexible working” – as this can put a massive strain on their resources. Sadly though, with our aging population in the UK, this is something which is likely to affect many employees who will possibly not be in a position to be able to afford private care for their loved ones.
Simple tasks that most of us take for granted, like getting dressed in the mornings can turn into a tricky task for someone suffering with dementia. For their carers, this in itself is a stressful and situation, couple this with worrying about asking for time off from work and/or juggling with other family responsibilities – when you look at them all, you could well be facing your employee suffering with and taking time off for stress.
However, there are many ways that employers can help. It could be something as simple as allowing your employee to come in to work an hour later, making up that time at the end of the day – changing the contract of employment to allow for a different work pattern; etc.
The end result of employers being more flexible; caring and understanding can be most beneficial for everyone involved. You get a more productive and appreciative employee, and they can manage their working life better.
The most satisfaction I get in my working life as a professional HR Consultant, is helping employers and employees to achieve a Win-Win in any given situation where possible – and this one seems like a no-brainer to me!
HR Dept (Herefordshire)
FROM NOUGHT TO NAUGHTY!
There is so much in the news these days about zero hours’ contracts. We have Vince Cable expressing his concern about them and now we have Ed Miliband vowing that “Labour will end the abuse of zero hour contracts”. He goes on to say that unscrupulous employers use these contracts to avoid paying holiday pay and/or sick pay.
The important word to note in Mr Miliband’s vow is “abuse”. Zero hours’ contracts, if used responsibly can be extremely beneficial to both employees and employers alike.
Take an example of an employer who has seasonal work which fluctuates for a variety of reasons. They employ staff, train them up and spend a lot of time inducting them into their company. Hopefully a good working relationship is developed. Then, the need for the product/service drops off and they no longer need the employee at that point in time. The advantage of a zero hours contract in this case is that the employee who has received training; has been fully inducted into the Company and has established a good working relationship, has the option to return when the workload improves. He/she can simply slot back into the work without having the hassle of job-hunting, attending interviews etc.
Take the other example, this time of an individual who perhaps like to travel for period of time, or who has other interests they want to pursue and do not want to be tied down to a full-time position, the zero hours contract would suit them down to the ground – it gives them the freedom to do other things, yet still have the comfort of a job to return to when this becomes available.
Where these contracts have got a bad name is when employers use them, or try to use them, to exploit employees – by laying them off without notice and not paying them sick or holiday pay.
Well, the good news is that paying holiday pay for employees is a legal requirement and failing to pay it could lead to an employer being taken on legally in an unfair pay claim. The simple fact is that for every 8.3 hours an employee works, they are entitled to 1 hour’s holiday pay.
As far as sick pay goes, this depends on their earnings. Provided they earn the appropriate amount of wage/salary which puts them above the threshold determined by HMRC for paying PAYE and National Insurance, they are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
So, don’t throw your hands up in despair and rush out to change your zero hours contracts just yet, but make sure that you are acting responsibly and complying with the correct legislation - in which case you could have a win-win relationship and what could be fairer than that?
HR DEPT (Herefordshire)
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