Scrooge’s Guide to Christmas Presents

As the end of the year approaches, it’s the time when some businesses think about how best to reward their staff for their hard work over the last 12 months. But will a one-off ‘thank you’ have the right effect, or would you be better off putting a more ongoing, sustainable rewards scheme in place?

Here’s the story of how one Dickensian employer got it right!

Ebenezer Scrooge loved Christmas! He really enjoyed giving his staff time off, to spend with their families over Christmas. He encouraged them to go Christmas shopping and to send cards to all their friends.

Mr Scrooge even loved giving presents to his staff. But he often struggled to find the best gift for each person. So one year, had a great idea. Instead of buying each member of his team a gift at Christmas, Mr Scrooge decided to set up a reward system for all his staff, which would run all through the year, rewarding them on an ongoing basis for their hard work.

Here’s what Ebenezer Scrooge did to create the best Christmas present that lasts for 12 months:

  1. He put a structure in place – just a simple one to begin with
  2. He took the time to identify the things that were really important to his staff – including non-financial benefits – and incorporated them into his strategy
  3. He invested in making his company an interesting and fulfilling place to work. This helped him to attract great people and helped keep overall pay costs down
  4. He created a scheme that was simple to understand, so that his line managers didn’t struggle to explain it. They were key to making his reward structure a success
  5. He didn’t assume that it was just about pay. According to research that Mr Scrooge read, some executives would consider a pay cut of up to 35% in order to get their ideal job.
  6. Then he reviewed the scheme and the effect it had on his staff throughout the year, to make sure he was still getting it right
  7. And finally he enjoyed spreading Christmas cheer amongst his staff all year long and they loved working for him!


Think about how you can engage your staff beyond Christmas by setting up a reward scheme next year.

Legal Updates? What You Need to Know Now

In November 2013 I ran a workshop to share some of the more recent employment law updates. Here are the details of just three of the issues we covered and what you need to know.

Flexible working. At present, parents and carers with at least 26 weeks employment can make one request for flexible working in 12 months and a statutory procedure applies to considering the request. From Spring 2014, all employees with at least 26 weeks continuous employment can make one request for flexible working in 12 months. Requests must be considered in a reasonable manner and within a reasonable period.

ACAS has produced a draft code for you to follow, when considering flexible working requests, which says:

  • Talk to your employee as soon as possible
  • Discuss the request in private but allow your employee to be accompanied
  • Approach requests from the presumption that they will be granted unless there is a business reason for not doing so
  • Inform your employee of your decision in writing as soon as possible
  • If your employee’s request is granted, or granted with modifications, discuss with them how and when the changes might best be implemented
  • If your employee’s request is rejected, ensure that the rejection is for one of the business reasons permitted by legislation and allow the employee to appeal it
  • Consider and decide on all requests, including any appeals, within a period of three months from initial receipt, unless an extension is agreed with the employee.

Shared parental leave. The law currently says that mothers can take 52 weeks maternity leave (39 paid weeks and 13 unpaid weeks) and that fathers or partners can take 2 weeks ordinary paternity leave, with the right to take up to 26 weeks additional paternity leave. From Spring 2015 you will need to consider shared paternity leave. This gives new parents the possibility of sharing the untaken balance of maternity leave and receiving pay for ‘flexible parental leave’. This is where parents can share 50 weeks leave and the 37 weeks pay due to the mother. Flexible parental leave can be taken in one week blocks interspersed with work and parents can take leave at the same time.

Unpaid parental leave. Currently, an employee with one year’s service and a child under 5 can take 18 weeks unpaid parental leave. This applies to each child and to each parent, with a maximum of 4 weeks unpaid leave allowed in any year. From 2015, the age of the child will increase from 5 to 18 years.

Does all this sound too confusing? If it does or you’re worried about how any of these changes will affect your business, please do get in touch and we can talk about it.

I’ll be running another employment law update in May 2014, after the next round of changes happen in April next year. Keep an eye on this blog for the date and details.