Many organisations like to celebrate with a Christmas party or meal with colleagues.
Often the employer will either host the event, be responsible for organising it, or pay for certain parts of it.
Ideally the day following a Christmas Party will be a non-working day, but for many organisations that is not possible and some or all employees will be at work the following day.
So what do you do if your employee fails to attend work after the ‘works do’?
If an employee fails to attend work on the day after a Christmas Party, the employer is entitled, in principle, to treat the un-authorised absence as a potential disciplinary matter.
Hopefully your employee will make contact rather than just not turn up.
If you don’t hear from the employee by the normal time, please make attempts to contact them or encourage friends that they have in the organisation to make contact so you can be sure they are OK. We’ve all had to call next of kin to ensure that someone is OK before and this may be one of those occasions. Next of kin don’t like it by the way.
Once you are satisfied that they are not coming to work then you can decide whether you are going to do something about it.
Many employers will send out a letter to employees prior to a works party explaining the employer’s expectations.
If you choose to treat the employee’s absence as a potential disciplinary matter you should be sure to establish that you are being consistent. For example if more senior employees are ‘allowed’ to be off, are you opening yourself to allegations of bias if more junior employees are disciplined. Check for sex discrimination too, I can recall one employer disciplining his men in the warehouse but not his ladies in accounts!
While an employer might reasonably suspect that an employee is malingering or has a hangover, it is important to investigate the employee‘s non-attendance. It would be reasonable following an investigation to discipline an employee for non attendance or to discipline them for not being genuinely sick if the investigation satisfied the employer that the employee was hungover and in an unfit state for example.
If you need any assistance managing staff absence during the Christmas Party season, do give us a call on 01527 306066.