s All I want for Christmas is a Secret Santa HR policy
Entirely Law

MANCHESTER LEGAL NEWS


All I want for Christmas is a Secret Santa HR policy


North West-based HR experts find 95% of businesses dont have any form of policy in place for the popular Secret Santa tradition.



All I want for Christmas is a Secret Santa HR policy

Businesses across the North West are leaving themselves at risk this festive season by failing to issue guidance to employees on standards of behaviour when participating in the company Secret Santa, according to Manchester-based, Citation.

A survey* by the HR and employment law specialists of 650 UK-based businesses revealed that nearly all (95%) of respondents don’t have a policy in place that sets out what is and isn’t appropriate for the gift giving exercise.

The lack of framework means that potential disciplinary consequences for any inappropriate conduct aren’t clearly outlined for staff.

In the most serious of cases, it can lead to employees raising formal grievances following receipt of an offensive or upsetting gift or resigning from the business to bring a constructive unfair dismissal claim.

Of those surveyed by the employment law specialist, 71 per cent of businesses weren’t aware that as an employer, they could be held liable if any employee receives an inappropriate Secret Santa gift.

This was despite some respondents having revealed that they had previously participated in Secret Santa schemes when inappropriate gifts had caused issues in the workplace. These included colleagues being given toothbrushes, underwear, products of a sexual nature, deodorant, phallic themed chocolate and female sanitary products.

Gillian McAteer, Head of Employment Law at Citation said: “The Secret Santa tradition remains extremely popular amongst businesses and when asked if it should be banned 92 per cent said no, so it’s certainly an exercise that people want to see continue. However, employers need to set out some simple guidelines as to what is and is not acceptable to ensure that one employee’s sense of humour does not land them in hot water.

“Businesses are leaving themselves extremely vulnerable to HR issues, even tribunal proceedings, if just one employee gifts another with an inappropriate Secret Santa gift, not to mention the damage it can do to employee relations and the animosity it could cause amongst colleagues. A staff member could take extreme offence or be subject to severe embarrassment or ridicule by a number of gifts which, to some, might be considered as funny or a bit of ‘banter’.

“Through conducting this research, we were immediately alerted to instances of employees receiving gifts that were discriminatory to race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. In many cases, the gift giver was not acting maliciously but did push boundaries, however as many businesses are not adequately advising employees on where the line is drawn, it’s not surprising that issues are arising.”

According to the research, the top five most inappropriate Secret Santa presents would be:

1.       Products of a sexual or rude nature

2.       Underwear

3.       Deodorant or personal hygiene products

"Businesses are leaving themselves extremely vulnerable to HR issues, even tribunal proceedings, if just one employee gifts another with an inappropriate Secret Santa gift."
Gillian McAteer, Head of Employment Law



4.       Anything personal to someone’s religion or culture

5.       Healthy cook book

Gillian added: “It’s not just inappropriate or offensive gifts that are causing issues for employers either. A common occurrence that was instantly recognised in the research was how often one member of a team or company had been left with no present because the gift giver had either forgotten to purchase something or had simply chosen not to participate. In some cases, some employees had also not been able to afford to participate in the exercise.”

The research also found that 29 per cent of businesses believe that the Secret Santa tradition causes employees to feel worried or pressured.

Secret Santa does however bring a number of benefits to the workplace. It’s a great team building exercise and helps colleagues to communicate more closely with other people in the business that they may not otherwise speak to and it forges friendships.

In order to enjoy the benefits of Secret Santa without the risks, companies should issue clear guidance to the entire business including rules such as:

·         Invite everyone to take part – don’t exclude anyone

·         Set a maximum amount for gifts

·         Be clear that taking part is optional and there is no pressure to participate

·         Gifts should be appropriate for the workplace. If you have to ask yourself if a gift is appropriate it probably isn’t

·         Respect an individual’s religion or beliefs

Gillian added: “Whether you send this guidance as an email, internal memo or policy, the important thing is that you tell them. You should also remind employees of the discrimination, bullying and harassment policies in your Employee Handbook and that failure to follow them will result in disciplinary action. This type of policy isn’t just for Secret Santa either, it can be adapted to cover all gift giving exercises you may have in the workplace, such as birthday and leaving gifts.”

To help companies to navigate Secret Santa this Christmas, Citation has compiled a handy guide that can be downloaded here.

For more information visit https://www.citation.co.uk/




DISCLAIMER: The statements, opinions, views and advice expressed in this article are those of the author/organisation and not of ENTIRELY. This article should represent information correct at the time of publication however whilst every care has been taken to present up-to-date and accurate information, we cannot guarantee that inaccuracies will not occur. ENTIRELY will not be held responsible for any claim, loss, damage or inconvenience caused as a result of any information within this article or any information accessed through this site. The content of any organisations websites which you link to from ENTIRELY are entirely out of the control of ENTIRELY, and you proceed at your own risk. These links are provided purely for your convenience and do not imply any endorsement of or association with any products, services, content, information or materials offered by or accessible to you at the organisations site.







Kuits Solicitors


Manchester Solicitors Kuits is one of the leading corporate and commercial law firms in the North West. Our approach is to work closely with our clients to understand their needs and objectives. By doing so we are able to provide tailored legal solutions.






Primas Law


Primas is a boutique commercial and corporate law firm. Our exclusive focus on business work means that we provide a highly specialised commercial service. At Primas, we employ a very simple corporate ethos: quality as the priority. This means that quality is at the forefront of everything we do. We understand that clients pay good money for legal services and our view






David Leviten

Partner at Clough Willis


David heads up the Commercial Property department at Clough Willis.He specialises in commercial property work with particular expertise in development work and has dealt with some of the largest development schemes in the North West. He acts for a range of clients including pension fund providers, developers and investors as well as for clients buying or selling one off commercial premises to large scale property portfolios.






McHale and Co

Law firm


We are an award-winning law firm with our HQ in Altrincham, Manchester, and also have offices in Stretford, Heywood and London providing legal services for individuals and businesses. We have an award-winning Polish department and a Russian department that services clients. We also provide advice and handle contract negotiations for professional sports players and teams. Our services include commercial litigation, debt recovery, employment, conveyancing, criminal and personal injury.






Wilson Gunn

Intellectual Property


Wilson Gunn is a firm of patent and trade mark attorneys who help businesses to protect their intellectual property. We can help you to protect your innovations in technology and design, as well as ensuring your brand is safeguarded. Get in touch to arrange a free, no-obligation meeting.






RECOMMENDED FOR YOU ON ENTIRELY NORTH WEST


















































Forward Role Win Four National Awards


Marketing and digital recruitment agency, Forward Role, are celebrating after scooping four national awards.The string of wins included Best Regional Agency, Best Client Service, Best Large Agency and Agency of the Year, at last nights Marketing and Digital Recruitment Awards