Absence, sickness and lateness following the Christmas party – What can you do as an employer?

On Day 5 of our Christmas Employment Series, we continue to focus on the potential Employment issues surrounding the annual Christmas party.

If the day after the Christmas party is a normal working day there is always the potential for the classic ‘sickie’ to be pulled for those who may have over-indulged…If staff don’t turn up for work and, following investigation, there is no satisfactory explanation for their absence, this can be treated as unauthorised absence in the usual way and dealt with under employers’ disciplinary procedures. However, as always, an investigation will still be required to ensure that staff who are genuinely ill are not penalised.

What about if staff attend for work late without good explanation, can employers make deductions from their wages? If this is something an employer wants to do they will need to have the right to do so in their employment contracts. If they don’t have this contractual right, they would need to obtain employees’ agreement to such deductions being made prior to the party taking place.

Employers can always remind employees that they are expected to attend for work as usual following a Christmas party, and that failure to turn up or lateness, where there is reason to believe this is linked to excess consumption of alcohol, may result in disciplinary action.

To try and minimise issues like this arising, employers could ensure that there is always a good variety of food and soft drinks available in order to help limit excessive drinking, and one way to avoid any issue, where normal working hours are Monday to Friday, is simply to arrange a party to take place on a Friday.

In Day 6 of our series, out tomorrow, we will be looking at all things annual leave over the Christmas period.

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