Whether employers plan to remain open or close during the festive break, an HR checklist can help prepare for it. Having HR compliance goals for the new year will also ensure employers are best prepared for 2024. As such, we discuss the priorities employers should consider for the Christmas period and the year ahead.
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HR Checklist for the Festive Period
With the Christmas break approaching, employers will likely have a different HR checklist depending on whether they’re open or closed. Below, we explore some things they should keep in mind, depending on what they do over this period.
Considerations During a Workplace Closure
If the employer opts to close over the festive period, they should determine how annual leave is dealt with. For instance, employers may insist that some annual leave entitlement be taken during the workplace closure. Alternatively, the employer could request those not taking annual leave to work from home if possible.
Furthermore, the security of the workplace should be considered to protect any valuable assets left behind. This could include testing the office alarms, ensuring construction site CCTV works, and hiring guards.
Moreover, since the workplace will be largely empty, employers should think about the access policy for employees. Doing so will help prevent unauthorised access to the workplace, theft and data breaches.
Finally, the HR checklist should address issues arising from winter weather. This includes keeping the heating system at a low temperature to prevent the pipes from freezing damage.
HR Checklist Tips if a Workplace Remains Open
Yet, separate considerations must be addressed if the workplace remains open. For example, some employees may wish to take time off if there isn’t a workplace closure. In such circumstances, the employer must deal with holiday requests lawfully.
What’s more, the HR checklist should consider the possible extreme cold weather during the period. Because of this, employers could request employees to work from home if possible. Yet if this isn’t possible, they should ensure the working conditions are safe. One example of this concerns the workplace room temperature, which the HSE advise doesn’t go below 16 degrees.
Finally, it’s important to address economic considerations. It will likely be quieter over this period, as some employees will take annual leave. Therefore, stock orders could be shrunk as less will be used, reducing waste and expense.
Checklist for HR to Prepare for the New Year
An HR checklist can help ensure employers have dealt with important jobs before the new year commences. For example, employers should ensure specific payroll tasks have been completed before the festive break begins. This includes setting up payroll systems to pay out untaken annual leave, scheduling bonus payments and preparing the first salary payment of the new year.
Additionally, employers need to make sure they’ve completed their final performance reviews with all employees. This includes addressing where the employee is, their goals for the new year, and how content they are at work. Such meetings are essential, as they show employees that the employer cares. This is crucial as workplace happiness can improve productivity and lead to company success.
Also, it’s a good idea to ensure all employee records are up to date. This will ensure employers remain legally compliant and don’t risk liability for a data breach.
Finally, as part of their HR checklist, employers should stay updated with changes to regulations and the law. Changes could cover several areas, including employment contracts, holidays, sickness and pay. Doing this ensures they remain legally compliant and minimises the risk of claims being brought against them. Among other things, some recent changes include:
- The Worker Protection Bill receiving the Royal Assent earlier this year, meaning employers will now be required to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment of a sexual nature
- The main national insurance rate being reduced by 2% from 6 January 2024, as per the Autumn Statement 2023
- The Royal Assent of the Flexible Working Bill improving an employee’s future right to request flexible working, which includes making two requests per year
By staying up-to-date with the latest changes in regulation and legislation, employers can update their policies accordingly. As such, they can be confident they’re doing everything the law requires of them.
Our HR Checklist Conclusion
Every business will have different focus points to tick off on their checklist. Goals could vary, depending on the size of a business, if they remain open over Christmas, and so much more. Ultimately, a company’s goals will be up to them, but having a checklist for HR will help ensure everything is complete.
To conclude, we think some of the key focuses for all companies to consider include:
- Making sure employees’ annual leave has been decided before the festive break
- Implementing and checking workplace security
- Preparing payroll for the new year
- Updating company policies in line with legislation changes
We hope our checklist gives you some helpful ideas to prepare for Christmas and the new year. We publish the latest employment law news in the sector, so please don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter for future advice.