Festive Season Is Here: Six Weeks to Christmas!

The end of year is meant to be a joyous time, and it is also a very busy time for many.

We’re talking festive season, celebrations, end-of-year parties from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. It has the potential to be challenging for employers on several levels. In HR speak, we call them Workplace Health & Safety, Responsible Service of Alcohol, Code of Conduct, Bullying & Harassment.

Check your holiday season policy

Even if you celebrate the end of the year outside of work, it’s still a work function. Employees are required to comply with all rules and regulations. The week before an event, it is good to gently remind employees of their responsibilities regarding conduct and being a brand ambassador. Simply put: have fun, but don’t push boundaries. Would your employees be able to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours when it comes to alcohol consumption? The easiest way to do this is to have an Alcohol-at-Work policy to avoid discrepancies between team members.

Other Considerations

Over Christmas and New Year, many businesses will shut down. While most people are delighted to hear a workplace will be closed, employers need to be aware of their notice requirements. Details specific to your industry will be in the relevant Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement. It is always recommended to outline shutdown procedures in your Employment Contract and Leave Policy. Remember that this year’s Christmas and New Year’s Day fall on Sundays, so your employees get an extra day off.  It’s important to remember that these days are an employee entitlement, and they can’t be deducted from an employee’s accrued leave balance, even if they’re on leave during that time.

Six weeks to Christmas!

In addition to notifying employees of the shutdown dates, employers should also clarify how to take leave. Let’s say you don’t have enough annual leave, you’re on leave without pay. During this period, some businesses let employees take negative or advance leave. If you decide to allow leave in advance, consider what arrangements you will have to manage this. The sooner you begin those discussions, the better, but if you have not yet initiated them, remember that there are only six weeks left until Christmas.  

The work hard, play hard later category

If an employee refuses to take leave, what should you do? The important thing is to know when you can direct employees to take leave (including unpaid leave). If you find yourself challenged here, there are ways that HR consultants can help you navigate through this. Our HR expertise enables us to work out the most cost-effective, compliant, and fair solutions for you.

Public holidays

If employees are required to work, additional penalty rates may apply according to their Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement or Employment Contract. Let’s begin with public holidays.

Since your employees are entitled to days off over the holiday period, have you thought about whether your business will also shut down during that time? Make sure you check your Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement (EA) and your notice period. It’s also worth remembering that some employees keep their leave balances so they can take time off at the end of the year, while others may not have the accrued leave, so you might have questions about taking time off.

Let us help you enjoy your holiday season!

We hope all that HR talk surrounding the holiday season didn’t give you headaches. Most business owners find the complexity of HR a pain, which is why we are here to help you – to relieve your pain. We do the heavy lifting so you can enjoy your holiday season. Contact our HR experts today!