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Employer Obligations and the Festive Season

The glittering lights, and the sound of carols in the air —yes, the festive season is upon us! As we gear up for celebrations and potential office close-downs, it's crucial to understand the significance of this joyous time and the need for meticulous planning to ensure a seamless experience for both your organisation and its employees.

At HR Duo, we want your plans to go off without a hitch, whilst recognising that all social gatherings during this season are an extension of the workplace, and the employer's duty to care for employees remains paramount.

Your Duty of Care During Work-Related Celebrations

Work-related gatherings and holiday parties are more than just festivities; they're a chance for teams to unite and for the company to express gratitude for employees' hard work throughout the year. Acknowledging these events as integral to employment places a responsibility on employers to ensure the Safety, Health, and Wellbeing of their staff. To guarantee a successful and enjoyable event, here are some guidelines we recommend:

  • Remind Employees of Appropriate Workplace Behaviour: Even outside working hours, workplace standards apply to events organised by, or through, the business. Reinforce appropriate behaviour to maintain a professional atmosphere.
  • Establish Clear Event Timings: Set clear start and finish times for events, committing not to serve alcohol beyond these hours. This ensures a well-regulated celebration.
  • Encourage Responsible Alcohol Consumption: Speaking of having a festive tipple, it's important to lead by example and encourage responsible drinking. Providing a variety of food and non-alcoholic beverage options is a thoughtful touch.
  • Choose a Safe Venue: Select a venue with secure transportation options for employees. Appointing a senior employee to oversee the event ensures a secure and enjoyable atmosphere.

Public Holidays and Annual Leave

As the holiday season triggers an influx of annual leave requests, coupled with public holidays, effective resource management becomes pivotal. Key dates to keep in mind include Christmas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, and New Year’s Day. 

Public Holidays in the Republic of Ireland

Full-time workers enjoy an immediate entitlement to benefit for public holidays, while part-time workers become eligible after working 40 hours in the previous 5 weeks. If an employee works on a public holiday, they are entitled to be paid as per their employment contract, with an additional benefit from the public holiday.

If the business is closed on a public holiday, employees due to work receive their normal day's pay. If open, employees working are entitled to either paid time off or an additional day's pay.

Public Holidays in the United Kingdom

Whether you find yourself clocking in during this period or enjoying a well-deserved break hinges on the details of your contract of employment. 

For some lucky employees, certain businesses shut their doors on bank holidays, generously allowing you to bask in the festivities. In such cases, your contract might grant you these days on top of, or within, your annual leave allocation, giving you a work-free holiday. However, if the jingle of Christmas bells aligns with your regular workdays and your employer insists on business as usual during public holidays, your contractual sleigh ride may require you to don the work hat—unless, of course, you've secured annual leave.

Management Responsibilities

To navigate this period smoothly, it's imperative for management to:

  • Understand the Annual Leave policy and the notification process for valid requests.
  • Ensure the HR system accurately reflects designated public holidays for visibility among staff.
  • Recognise the entitlements to public holiday benefits for both full-time and part-time employees.
  • Compensate employees working on public holidays per the terms outlined in their contracts.

Acceptance of Gifts Policy

The season often brings gifts from customers or clients. A clear Acceptance of Gifts policy can manage expectations and potential issues. Here's our recommended approach:

  • Implement a policy, specifying criteria for declaring non-electronically paid tips or gifts.
  • Empower employees to report received gifts for the employer to assess appropriateness.
  • Decide on the appropriate course of action based on whether the gift is for an individual or multiple employees.

Taking proactive steps in these areas not only fulfils obligations but also contributes to a positive and festive workplace atmosphere. From all of us at HR Duo, we extend our best wishes for joyous and safe celebrations!

Feel free to contact us if you need support in setting up an Acceptance of Gifts policy, or if you're looking to streamline your employee time, rota and attendance process with a platform that delivers up to 80% of your HR needs



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