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Christmas Rota Headache? A Practical Guide for Employers

Christmas Rota Headache? A Practical Guide for Employers

Date: 18th December 2018 | By: Claire Malley | Categories: Employment law

christmas rotaWhilst many industries close for Christmas, it is worth considering those who remain open, and require staff to work causing a potential Christmas rota headache. Some sectors of the UK which have to work at Christmas include not only the service sector of pubs and many restaurants, but the emergency services, residential and domiciliary care sectors, roadside assistance mechanics and all the call centres to take calls.

The annual problem with managing the Christmas rota is therefore a bigger problem than you would think, and making sure that everyone works over the period can be difficult. Whilst many people in health or care sectors may not mind working at Christmas, others are not always so willing to work over the festive period.

5 Tips When Planning the Christmas Rota

  • 1. Get ahead
    Organising the Christmas rota should begin in plenty time, and we would recommend starting it at the latest in October or early November. Once people have made plans for Christmas, many excuses can be made, or attempts made to avoid working over the period. However, if you start it early, people can plan their lives around the draft Christmas rota, rather than the organisation try and draft the rota around the staff.
  • 2. Get staff members on board with rota plans
    If someone has not worked on Christmas day for several years, but others do it every year, this should be highlighted to them, and the discrepancy and unfairness of it raised with them. Discuss the shift pattern, which they would prefer to do, and try and work with the staff rather than populating the rota and then discussing it with staff afterwards.
  • 3. Try to be reasonable
    Don’t try and dictate the rota to staff, as people will fight it, go off sick or potentially behave in a disruptive way. It should be completed through consultation and agreement in order to achieve the best, and most reliable rota. Listen to their concerns or problems. If shifts can be moved around because of certain circumstances, that’s preferable than an employee either attending work at Christmas in a disgruntled manner, or failing to attend work at all. If the shifts are through agreement, then all staff are more likely to be reliable in their attendance over the Christmas period.
  • 4. Christmas Bonus & Benefits
    For those who attend the unsociable shifts, it could be worth implementing a bonus system and additional remuneration in order persuade employees to complete the shifts. Whilst some may consider it a bribe, or being held to ransom, it is a way of acknowledging the fact that those shifts are difficult to fill.
  • 5. Have a contingency plan
    It’s always worth having a backup plan, in case an employee calls in sick, there is an emergency or an unplanned situation. Organising ‘reserve’ staff members in advance can relieve the stress of attempting to resolve a problem on Christmas Day, and provide security for a business or organisation over the festive period.

With careful planning any workplace problems over Christmas can be minimised. In some industries reliability can be a problem, but by following these 5 key tips, hopefully these issues can be resolved. Contact our HR experts for FREE HR Advice over the holiday season.

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