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Julie Page HR Ltd – Newsletter December 2012

As we approach the end of the year I thought it appropriate and enlightening to summarise some key points and interesting facts on the subject of Employment Law during 2012.

However, such news is quite lengthy so I have added this link for you to access my website.

I hope you will find the time to read this and find the content informative and useful.

For most employers it has been a tough year with many challenges relating to your business and of course your people.  That said, I sincerely hope you are able to end this year on a positive and productive high; ready to enjoy the Christmas festivities and return to the New Year, re-energised and focused for the challenges ahead during 2013.

Please remember I am always available via email or phone for advice/assistance relating to any HR issues and concerns.

Before we end the year however, please allow me to remind you of two very topical issues:

HR Essex

The Office Party –

Christmas parties can be a great opportunity for work colleagues to socialise, and for you, the employer, to show your appreciation and thanks to your employees for their hard work throughout the year.

Without wishing to be a party pooper, it is useful for you to be aware of the potential pitfalls.

Employers are liable for the actions of their employees “during the course of their employment”

Case law has shown that conduct at Christmas/works parties can be considered to be “during the course of employment”. This means that you could end up defending a harassment claim which could potentially attract an award of unlimited damages.

Therefore, please consider the following when organising your office party:

  • check facilities for any disabled employees
  • ensure that employees on maternity/paternity leave receive an invitation
  • if providing food, make sure you cater for employees with religious/ethical beliefs
  • if you are inviting partners, make sure you do the same to those in same sex relationships
  • ensure, as practically as possible, that employees get home safely
  • limit the amount of free alcoholic drinks

However, if you do find yourself defending a claim at tribunal, you will have a successful defence if you can show that you took all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination from occurring.  Equally, if you do receive a complaint, you can show you did everything reasonably practicable to put things right.”Hopefully a Merry time will be had by all.

Remember perfect planning prevents poor performance...............

working in the snowSnow – The unforeseen absence

When dealing with this issue you should consider three important points:

  • employees have a contractual obligation to take all reasonable steps to attend work and be absent only if they have prior permission, e.g. holiday, genuine sickness, or a statutory right for absence
  • you, the employer, must act reasonably if your employee fails to attend work. You must consider each case carefully and react reasonably.
  • both parties should appreciate that, if the employee has a problem attending work and it is not the fault of the employer, then both the problem and its solution belong to the employee, albeit the employer should still respond reasonably.

Clearly snow is now upon us and may re occur over the next few months. It is therefore a good time to reiterate to employees your stance and expectations in this regard so they are informed and can plan accordingly.  


  • if snow falls the night before work, it is reasonable for you to expect them to make arrangements for reducing the impact of the problem, for example by getting up earlier or salting the drive
  • if snow falls overnight, employees should be expected to make efforts to get to work as best they can and possibly communicate with each other and share lifts
  • conversely, people who are not fit should be advised not to try to shovel or make their way through heavy snow
  • late arrivals or people who do not show up for work at all should be assessed according to the travel problems they faced and the efforts they made to deal with them.

You may choose to pay your employee for this period of unexpected absence, take it out of their holiday entitlement, treat it as unpaid leave, or ask them to make the time up later.

In more serious instances, it may be necessary to impose a disciplinary sanction, IF the employee has behaved irresponsibly.

HR PhrasesIF you act fairly and reasonably, you will avoid any legal difficulties AND maximise good employee relations..............

Now; all that remains is for ME to wish YOU a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year!

Julie Page, an experienced HR & Training Specialist, works with companies of all sizes to ensure they utilise Employment Legislation, Best Practice and their own Aims and Objectives to maximise their Business Potential through their staff. 

To find out more about the contents of this Newsletter or ways in which Julie can work with you for your HR and staffing requirements, please contact her on 07776 135350 or through this website for an initial discussion and free consultation.

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