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Kerry Eastman

HR Advisor - Uckfield

No sprout about it, it’s time for a break!

Finally, the end of 2020 is in sight! As we head towards a very well-deserved Christmas break, we’ve come up with few ideas for connecting with employees in the absence of a traditional Christmas party.

  • Virtual Quizzes: Gather your employees together for a festive quiz via virtual facilities such as Zoom or Teams. Don’t forget to ask your employees to wear their best Christmas hats and jumpers. Perhaps have a prize for the winner to encourage employees to join in!
  •  Gifts: If the Company usually organises a Christmas party, why not use the ‘party pot’ to send something merry and bright to your employees this year? Recognition is a key factor for employee engagement, particularly for making employees feel valued. Alternatively, giving an afternoon off to enjoy some quality time with family over the festive period would be equally rewarding.
  •  Secret Santa: Set up a secret Santa. Just make sure the budget suits everyone, that it’s voluntary and remember that delivery costs may apply! Plan a virtual call for when all gifts are delivered and enjoy a non-work related virtual social.
  • Letters: A simple letter to an employee, thanking them for all their hard work and dedication through the tough times 2020 has presented may be enough to make many employees feel appreciated.

 There’s snow better time to relax!

Many employees will have found themselves working from home for most of 2020. It is therefore important, where business requirements allow, that employees are given the chance to take a well-earned break over the Christmas/New Year period. Here are a few tips to help employees ‘switch off’:

  • Prior to the commencement of their Christmas leave, we recommend that you catch up with employees and ascertain their current workloads. If workload is mounting, chances are they may be tempted to work during their holidays. Perhaps you could assist them in putting a plan together to lessen the load which may remove any temptation to log on?
  • Encourage employees to have a Christmas clean. Clearing their workspace of clutter and paperwork will hopefully reduce the temptation to work over the holidays, including having a clear up/sort out of emails. Where employees are working in their kitchens or other living areas, they should be encouraged to clear away their working spaces when going ‘on holiday’.
  • Best practice would suggest that, in order to get the most out of a well-deserved break, wherever possible, employees should be encouraged to avoid taking calls or messages on a work issued mobile telephone during a period of holiday.

 Elf & Safety!

On the subject of taking a break this Christmas, we’d like to take the opportunity to remind you of the Working Time Regulations 1998 in connection with holidays, working hours and rest breaks.


Employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks’ holiday in each full holiday year (inclusive of bank and/or public holidays). Employers can choose to increase this minimum however, holiday entitlement must never be less than the statutory minimum.

Calculating holiday entitlement has never been easier with the Government’s holiday calculator.

Maximum Working Hours

Employees should not work more than 48 hours per week on average calculated over a 17 week reference period.

Employees can choose to waive this restriction by signing an opt-out agreement allowing them to work more than 48 hours per week. This can be for a temporary period or indefinitely and must be in writing.

Rest Breaks

There are three types of rest break that employees are entitled to. These are:

  • Rest breaks at work: employees are entitled to a 20 minute rest break if they exceed six hours on a working day. This does not have to be paid.
  • Daily rest: employees have the right to 11 hours’ rest between working days. For example, if they finish work at 8.00 pm they should not start work again until 7.00 am the following day.
  • Weekly rest: employees have the right to either:
    • An uninterrupted 24 hour period without any work each week;
    • An uninterrupted 48 hour period without any work each fortnight.

Employees cannot opt out of the statutory minimum rest breaks so make sure their working hours allow for such breaks.

Christmas Closure

Just to let you know, our offices will be closed from Thursday, 24 December 2020 at 1.00 pm and will re-open on Monday, 4 January 2021 at 08.45 am.

For more information on the working time regulations and how to connect with employees contact Victoria Regan or Amy White in Rix & Kay’s Employment Team.

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