Christmas is coming and if you haven’t started planning already it;s about time you did. There are parties to organise, Christmas cards, gifts, food, drink and favours – and that’s before you start thinking about family!
Planning a good business Christmas party is relatively straightforward and can be seen as a uniquely seasonal team building exercise when colleagues get involved.
That said, business parties require a certain level of professional decorum that family and personal gatherings do not, so it’s a good idea to talk to people about their preferences first, especially if the Christmas party is the only holiday bonus offered to employees.
Business Christmas parties may be planned by one person, bit it is also possible to form a party committee. If the part has a small budget and will be held at the office, try enlisting some employees to help decorate before the party starts.
To make sure your festivities are ho ho ho, not no no no, make sure you know how many people need to be catered for and if there are any special dietary requirements. On a related issue, some employers have taken to hosting Winter or Holiday parties so that staff members that don’t celebrate Christmas can also be included.
The Christmas bonus may be a thing of the past, but how about using the festive season as an excuse to incentivise staff and reward their efforts with a few treats, from money behind the bar to subsiding their party of even small gifts? Check with your accountant, but even the Taxman shows he has a heart at Christmas and small business owners may be able to take advantage of a seasonal tax break that allows them to spend up to £150 per employee on the function.
Most companies with a large workforce will be mindful of the potential benefit in kind tax charge on their employees for the Christmas party which would result in a tax charge to the employees and a class 1a National Insurance charge of 13.8 per cent on the employer. The full cost of the function is deductible for corporation tax purposes but under the exemption the company also saves the 13.8 per cent National Insurance charge. The employee is not taxed on the benefit in kind either.
Company owners are also advised to consult their HR advisers well in advance of the festive season and decide how to ensure employees behave appropriately and how to deal with worse-for-wear workers who turn up late the morning after the big event.
Inform everyone of party etiquette in advance. Essentially, without wishing to put a dampener on anyone having a good time, the business party is an extension of the workplace and the same rules of professional conduct should apply. Equally, employers are responsible for the protection and safety of their employees and these rules still apply at the office party.
Even when the party’s over there are potential issues to be considered. The proliferation of social media sites such as Facebook means your staff – or their partners – might be tempted
to post inappropriate photo on the internet. This could lead to a loss of reputation and trust between staff and even land individuals in serious hot water.
Many companies now have social media policies for this reason.
You don’t want to be a killjoy at Christmas, but it is wrong to assume that anything goes just because ‘tis the season to be jolly!