December is the start of winter. At the time of writing we've seen no snow and happily anticipate and wish for it in time for Christmas. We report below what no employer would wish for - a continuing battle over 4 years defending a claim of unfair dismissal on the grounds that a live disciplinary warning should not have been taken into account. At this time of year, top of our list of things to avoid is a harassment or discrimination claim following the Christmas party. You'll find the link to a real tribunal case below, with a boozy party backdrop that feeds the claim, and another with some tips for avoiding claims. As we're at the start of winter, we've added a reminder about employees attending for work in difficult weather conditions, and a note that non-attendance due to party excesses can also be addressed. Check the Diary for key dates and our Top Tip comments on the great business tool HR policies are. Our Thought for the Day had us chuckling and is
, we think, entirely fitting for events of this month and topics in this news! Finally, we have great news of our 20% off Winter Warmer that started at the beginning of December and runs to 30 January 2014.
Four years of court cases over unfair dismissal claims
This employee was dismissed for misconduct. The dismissal decision took into account a live final written warning for a previous separate disciplinary matter. The employee claimed consideration of the live final written warning was not valid and that the warning should never had been given. After 4 years of Employment Tribunals, Employment Appeal Tribunals and Court of Appeal a decision was made with regard to whether she was, or was not, unfairly dismissed. Before you read the summary here - would you take a live warning into account?
"I never thought they would do that..."
This is a phrase we hear most commonly during December and January when complaints and potential claims come up in connection with the Christmas party, taking the employer completely by surprise. For most it's a great event that's enjoyed. But, in a relaxed social setting a few may loose all sense of their boundaries. Where a party is organised by the company, it is likely be seen as an extension of the workplace, so the usual employer's obligations will apply. Whatever you might think of the law, make sure that what you do does not leave you exposed to needless claims of harassment (the most common) or discrimination - read this for a good example of Christmas party blunders that led to a claim. At Point 14 you'll find included the words "On that night a good deal was drunk by everybody ... Drinks flowed there.". One of the many common elements in Christmas party complaints. Wouldn't you rather spend the New Year on your business than rebutting an Employment Tribunal claim? Read more here, including about simple protective measures we recommend you take.
Winter weather and attendance at work (& party related absence)
As we head into winter it's worth an early note about attendance at work in bad weather that may cause difficulties for employees in the journey to work. Whether this is the wrong kind of leaves on the rail tracks causing train delays or cancellations, or snowdrifts that completely cover the car. What can you do, and is it the employees responsibility to attend for work? Find out here While we're thinking about non attendance, remember that if employees do not attend at work because of excesses at any number of festive celebrations there is action you can take. Give us a ring at the office - 0845 463 3231 - and we'll talk it through with you.
20% off plus we donate to Help for Heroes
Thought for the day
And we're off! We're repeating our winning Winter Warmer Offer again where we offer 20% off PLUS we make a donation to Help for Heroes. We made a wonderful donation following last winter's offer and hope for the same again. The offer runs from 1 Dec to 31 January. Check the full details here.
What I don't like about Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day ~ Phyllis Diller