Essential HR

Christmas Parties without Problems

Christmas Parties without Problems

Christmas means different things to different people – mostly the people I talk to don’t want to hear mention of it because of all the planning and present-buying that is required.  But with respect to your jobs it is very important to have planned and made the right arrangements.

What you need to avoid is goodwill turning bad!  So if you are going to have a Christmas party make sure that it is something that everyone can actually enjoy!  And if you are giving gifts make them meaningful.  I’ve seen some fantastic evidence of goodwill over the years – BBQ and beer during work time on the last day before break up – plus taxi chits!  And the equivalent of about a week’s pay as a bonus – paid early in December so it can be used for Christmas presents.  But I’ve also seen some where, for example, the celebration activity is clearly something the owner likes, but painful for many staff.

And as an Employer you don’t want to end up with grievances from staff because you got some key benefits wrong!

So as you prepare for a work Christmas season – what are some of the things you should look out for?

Do you close down all or part of the business over Christmas/New Year?

If you do, the law requires you to give at least 14 days notice of the exact days you will be closed.  And your employees have to take annual leave.  The stat days are paid out at their normal daily pay or, if that isn’t clear, the average daily pay they’ve received over the last 52 weeks. 

Any employees who have started since last Christmas will have to be paid out 8% of their earnings to the date of closedown less any amount you have already paid out in annual leave since they started – this is what the law dictates.  Their annual leave then starts from scratch from the closedown date. 

And where employees continue working or are on call your arrangements should be reasonably normal. 

Having a Christmas celebration at your workplace?

Firstly – good for you as the Employer!  It’s one of those times when you have a real opportunity to say thank you to your team.

Secondly – and this is for everyone – behave!  I’m not just thinking about after-party relationships on the photocopier; but there is a real danger of excessive drinking and of use of language that may not be appropriate for the workplace and could get you in trouble.

Employers should set the example and also provide for staff to get home safely – it’s a work function and you have a responsibility to avoid it causing harm!  Everyone can still have fun – but arranging sober drivers or taxi chits or limiting the amount of alcohol are all simple options. 

Do you like to provide your staff with a bonus for Christmas?

Bonuses are always positive – or should be.  But sometimes they become expected and then the benefit is lost.  So why not ring the changes – always make it something your employees will appreciate.  And if you can’t afford much, a non-financial gift may be under the threshold for FBT and hence can be given tax-free.  Check with your accountant. 

This year has just flown by.  I trust a number of you have enjoyed my column.  So from me it’s a very merry Christmas wish to all YOU readers, and here’s ho-ho-hoping you all have an enjoyable time over the festive season.

Next month I’m going to be on leave, like most of you!  But let’s spare a thought for those whose work over this holiday period help us to keep safe – health workers, police, firefighters – and of course all those tireless dairy-owners and coffee-makers!