An Employer's Guide To Surviving December

Author:Ms Deborah Scales and Daniel Stander
Profession:Cartwright King Solicitors
  1. You can celebrate Christmas without offending other religions

    So says the Equality & Human Rights Commission which encourages employers to take a common sense approach. There is no need to take disproportionate measures such as replacing the word "Christmas" or banning carol singing. Click here for the EHRC's on line Guidance for Employers on Religion and Belief Discrimination which went live on 2 December 2016.

  2. You can shut down your business over the Christmas break

    There is no rule to prevent employers requiring staff to take some of their statutory or contractual holiday entitlement during a period of business shut down. Simply make that clear in the contracts of employment.

  3. Working from home over the break

    Consider data protection issues in advance if you are going to let staff work from home. Providing remote access to your company email is going to be far safer that allowing staff to forward your business emails to their personal addresses. A Data Protection and IT Policy will help here.

  4. Corporate gift giving and receiving

    Take care that gifts given or received are not too lavish or the business could fall foul of the Bribery Act 2010. A bribe is defined as a "financial or other advantage" offered, promised or given to induce a person to perform a relevant function or activity improperly, or to reward them for doing so.

    This broad-ranging description covers many types of possible advantage including those typically offered at this time of year such as gifts, hospitality and entertainment. It is an offence for a commercial organisation to fail to prevent bribery by an "associated person"; this definition covers those who perform services for and on behalf of the employer. It covers agents, consultants and volunteers as well as employees. Consequences of a breach of the Bribery Act are severe. Individuals can face up to ten years in prison and commercial organisations can face unlimited fines and be prevented from tending for public contracts.

    Employers have a defence if they can show that they had adequate procedures in place to prevent bribery. Helpfully there is no definition or specific explanation of what an "adequate procedure" might be. The Ministry of Justice has produced some guidance which can be found here:

    We recommend having a clear, understandable Anti-Corruption and Bribery policy, staff training, risk assessments and management commitment to anti-bribery....

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