Christmas can be a worrying time of year for HR managers. Teams working extended hours, overtime and stressful working conditions can quickly lead to unrest amongst your team. Add to that last minute holiday requests, time off for school concerts and dealing with the aftermath of the staff Christmas party, and you’d be forgiven for hiding under your desk instead of getting into the festive spirit.

For our final blog of the year, we’re sharing a few emails we’ve received from one of our most loyal clients (with their permission, of course) to help you manage the potential issues that might come your way this festive season. If any of them resonate with you, please drop us a line. We’ll be ready with a mince pie and a glass of sherry…


Sex discrimination

Dear EML,

Santa ClausI need your assistance with a disgruntled employee, who also happens to be my wife. It’s coming up to our busiest day of the year and she’s working very hard to organise the workshop and ensure we get products manufactured in time for despatch on the 25th. I have no concerns as to her work ethic and application. The issue is, she has requested to become involved in our global delivery operation. As you’re aware, delivery is traditionally a one-man job. I am concerned that if I don’t involve her this year, we may leave ourselves open to a discrimination claim.  

Thanks in advance for your expert guidance,

Santa Claus


Dear Santa,

We think the key consideration here should be towards your customers. Customer experience is a key differentiator for your organisation. Clients expect their deliveries to be made by a named individual. If this were to change, you would open yourself up to customer claims and compensation that could cripple your organisation. We would strongly recommend an open and honest conversation with this employee to explain the implications of her request and the objective justification you have for not deviating from your current practice. Express how valued and important she is to the team and discuss the alternative ways you could reward their performance and commitment. We think this individual will welcome your honesty and the show of appreciation.

Please let us know how you get on,

The EML team


Letters for Santa mailboxData Protection

Dear EML,

Under data privacy law, what should I do with all the children’s letters? They arrive in huge volumes and are packed with sensitive personal information. In light of GDPR coming into force, I am worried our data collection and storage procedures may need reviewing.

Any advice would be appreciated,

Santa Claus  


Dear Santa,

Please don’t worry. You have come to the right team.

It sounds like you have a lawful basis for processing the data as individuals send you their letters directly. In terms of data processing, you need to mitigate any adverse impact on the individual, especially when deciding who goes on the ‘naughty or nice’ list. Those on the naughty list may be unhappy being identified as such.

You do need to ensure you are open and honest with all correspondents about how you process, handle and store their personal data. You can do this via a Privacy Notice on your Santa’s Workshop website.

Make sure you limit the processing and storage of the data to a minimum. In your case, there would be no requirement to maintain the data once the gift has been delivered, unless you need to retain information to manage any returns. We would recommend a bonfire as an appropriate means of destroying the data. This would also prove a very effective means of heating in the North Pole and would save you some money on your energy bills.

Best of luck for your busiest trading period,

The EML team


Winter working conditions

Dear EML,

We have an employee who’s generally a jolly happy soul. Frosty really comes to life at Christmas and makes all the children laugh and play. To reward his performance, I am planning a review of his working conditions and would appreciate some guidance on working in cold temperatures please.

Thanks in advance,

Mrs Claus


Dear Mrs Claus,

Whilst the temperature in all indoor workplaces during working hours must be reasonable, there’s actually no legal requirement in respect of a minimum working temperature. However, the Approved Code of Practice and guidance relating to the Workplace health, safety and welfare. Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 does suggest a minimum of 16ºC, or 13ºC if employees are doing physical work requiring rigorous physical effort. More generally, you do have an obligation to ensure all employees work in a safe environment and are provided with the necessary Personal Protective Equipment. Where employees are working outdoors, you should provide facilities for warming up (although Frosty might not appreciate that one) and introduce more frequent rest breaks to allow for this. Educating your team to recognise the signs and symptoms of cold stress would also be beneficial.

If you need any further guidance, please get in touch.

The EML team


A message from the EML team

Wishing a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our readers, clients and associates. We look forward to working with you in 2019!