Should businesses still celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is, of course, a holiday that is widely celebrated throughout the United Kingdom, with most businesses excitedly preparing for the festivities. It is broadly seen as a time where family, friends and colleagues can all come together in a time of joyous celebration. That also typically includes year-end celebrations in the form of work Christmas parties. However, with diversity within the workplace becoming more important, Business Leader investigated if businesses still celebrate Christmas as much as they currently do.

Other religions and inclusivity within businesses

The vast majority of employees are afforded a day off, or a period of days off, over the festive season as Christmas is nationally observed. Though despite this, it is not the case for those who observe other religions. Some employers may start to offer those days off, but it is currently far from being the norm. For example, those practising religions such as Judaism or Islam will typically need to take at least one day off in order to celebrate one of their holidays, such as Yom Kippur or Eid al-Fitr.

A lot of these holidays are observed as all-day affairs. This means those celebrating will have to face a potentially tricky decision when it comes to essentially choosing between their religion and their work. While simply taking a day off may not sound like a difficult decision to make, it raises questions around whether it should even be a decision in the first place. Almost the entirety of the UK workforce is able to have Christmas Day off from work. So much so that it is almost a given, with only a small minority actually working. So why are those who celebrate different holidays not afforded that same luxury? It is extremely important to not only be wary of those who do not celebrate Christmas but appreciate why that is.

The Christmas festivities have been a focal point for businesses in the UK for decades, so it will likely never be as simple as to just stop celebrating. When it comes to potentially granting some additional annual leave to those celebrating other religious holidays, there could be the unfortunate implication of discrimination against other employees. There has been previous scope for cases against employers with regards to their dealings with taking holidays to observe, such as the JH Walker Ltd case.

Work Christmas parties are great fun, but they can also cause issues

The Christmas period is often one that employees look forward to, not least because of the office Christmas parties. They are a chance for employees to have a well-deserved break and some out-of-office bonding time. While they are great when it comes to letting the proverbial hair down, office Christmas parties are not always as smooth as planned. There are pros and cons to most things, and work-based festive get-togethers are no different.

With the social aspect of a work party, employees are likely to get to know each other on a different level to the day-to-day office environment. As a result, with spirits high, relationships are given the opportunity to improve and flourish. This can often have a knock-on effect when it comes to returning to the workplace, with the growth in relationships between colleagues and morale able to be channelled into increased productivity. Parties are an important facet of the culture of a business, further helping to cement the focus of employees and their belief that they are at a company that they truly enjoy working for.

The almost inevitable consumption of alcohol at parties is often at the root of misdemeanours and any problems that are caused. The combination of the alcohol and the social, non-work environment can easily contribute to troublesome outcomes not only on the night itself, but at work. It is always going to be a wise decision to not over-engage in the festivities, no matter how tempting that may be. At the risk of upsetting colleagues or causing friction within the office, it is generally not going to be worth the hassle.

While the act of putting on a Christmas party in itself is unlikely to be legally troublesome for the hosting businesses, the potential for lawsuit-inducing incidents occurring is omnipresent. Assessing risk ahead of work-related celebrations is important, though will not always prevent unfortunate incidents from happening. Sometimes, party-related issues may even arise indirectly and not as a result of a disorderly occurrence.

The current day Christmas disruption caused by Covid

In terms of the current day, where Covid continues to loom large, there may be more thoughts relating to businesses restricting Christmas activities. Last year, Christmas parties and general celebrations were largely limited to Zoom, Skype or such equivalents. The normal high-spirited office environments and parties were put on the backburner. While those restrictions are likely to be at the very least less stringent this time around, there is always the possibility that the ideal plans may not come to fruition once again.