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Employers – don’t unwrap an HR nightmare before Christmas

MAKE sure that your company’s Christmas festivities do not result in an HR nightmare, business owners have been warned.

The onus is on employers to ensure that their staff understand exactly how they should conduct themselves at festive parties – and the repercussions if they do. not.

Excessive drinking, fighting, and next-day hangovers are amongst the top complaints from business owners after Christmas parties, says a Northamptonshire HR expert. Rachel Collar is advising bosses to reissue their staff handbook to all employees ahead of the festivities to clarify exactly what is deemed acceptable behaviour and what the consequences can be if company rules are broken.

“Business owners want their employees to let their hair down, but they’re failing to put plans in place to stop the behaviour that leads to issues,” says Ms Collar pictured left, founder and managing director of Towcester-based Haus of HR. “It is always a busy time of year for me – I have to deal with the disciplinaries and formal warnings when people have overindulged and conducted themselves badly. And so much of it could easily have been avoided with the right preparation.”

Employers must communicate clearly what they expect from their staff and have plans in place to stop any incidents before they become problematic, she advises.

“A work Christmas party is an extension of the workplace. People should behave accordingly, that means no violence, no harassment or discrimination, and no risky or unsafe behaviour. Employers have a duty of care to make sure staff do not drink and drive, that everyone can get home safely and that no one turns up to work hungover or still drunk the next day.

“Making employees fully aware of this is the best preventative measure.”

Most Christmas parties go off without a hitch, but in some cases they can take a turn, she adds.

Not only does it ruin everyone’s night but it also causes a real HR disaster for the next day. Pre-empt the risks,  make sure everyone knows what is expected of them and it is likely you will avoid any drama.”

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