Employers prepare to party at Christmas

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Scrooge bosses will be outnumbered this year as latest findings show that 72% plan to throw a Christmas party.

Researchers IRS Employment Review surveyed 124 organisations to establish the findings.

Accepting employers are also recognising the changing face of Christmas with many reporting that they will also organise time off for employees wanting to celebrate other festivals including Diwali.

Bosses do expect employees to join in the fun, however, with only 14% of organisations making formal provisions to allow employees to opt out of Christmas celebrations. Although one in three would make provision for members of non-Christian faiths to mark religious festivals.

Taking annual leave was cited as the preferred route for employees who select to opt-out of the Christmas celebrations.

In the majority of respondents employers will foot the party bill with 61% saying they will pay for the whole cost with only 23% expecting employees to chip in. The average subsidy was reported to be £30.

Most employers say they will kick start the festivities after work hours; a mere 16% are planning to start the party during working hours. Just under a quarter, 21% said they would allocate a whole working day to the office party keeping it entirely within office hours.

Only 28% of bosses will lay down the law with a policy setting out standards of expected party behaviour. Although those without a formal policy admit to at least reminding their staff about their responsibilities under general codes of behaviour and conduct backed up by disciplinary procedures.

Signalling a change in traditional Christmas rewards the findings show that the Christmas bonus looks to be a thing of the past with just under a quarter of respondents offering to give an additional payment at that time of year. While 30% plan to give staff non-cash gifts including turkeys, hampers, wine, vouchers, household and electricial goods.

IRS Employment Review managing editor, Mark Crail commented:

“Managers have to be aware of the sensibilities of staff who do not wish to celebrate Christmas. This is particularly important now that discrimination on grounds of religion or belief has been outlawed, but is also a matter of good employee relations.

"No-one wants to look like Scrooge at this time of year, but it is becoming increasingly important to be sensitive to people’s wishes.”

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