Last year, GQL managed to get the inside scoop from Santa on the employment challenges he had faced during a dramatic year. Unbelievably, we have been lucky enough to get another off-the-(Christmas)-record chat with the big guy again this year. He spoke to us about the employment law issues that he’s faced in 2021 with his “elve-ployees” at his secret UK-based grotto.
After a mostly successful Christmas in 2020 (despite the last-minute lockdowns making delivery a more complicated affair!), 2021 has posed a whole new set of challenges.
Most of Santa’s elve-ployees were fully vaccinated early in the year, partly due to Santa’s decision to introduce a mandatory vaccination policy. This was initially met with resistance, but luckily HR (aka Mrs Clause) developed some clear policies (outlining exceptions for those with pre-existing “elf”-conditions). Once everyone had chatted things through over mince pies and some mulled wine, everyone became much less grinch-like. Cases in the grotto have since been mercifully low.
Having got used to working from home in 2020, many elves made flexible working requests this year. Santa feels very strongly that his team should work in the grotto as much as possible, to maintain the team’s festive culture and Christmas spirit all year round. For the elves in charge of toy making and sleigh maintenance, who need to be physically “present” for their roles, he was able firmly to shut down the requests. However, he has struggled to justify why elves in the Present-Delivery-Planning and Naughty-Or-Nice-Audit departments cannot do their roles from home.
Santa disclosed that, shockingly, one elve-ployee was recently caught trying to work two full-time jobs at once! He was working full-time in the grotto for Santa, but also “working remotely” for another employer (a large online retailer, no less – the cheek!). Both employers were completely unaware of one another; it seems that even Santa isn’t free from the scourge of over-employment. The elve-ployee in question was given the “sack” for gross (Christ)misconduct, and there is a tribunal claim looming in the new year. Luckily, that’s a quiet patch for Santa so he should have plenty of time to draw up his witness statement.
Sadly, several elve-ployees in the Present-Delivery-Planning department have been close to burn out this year. The regular changes to travel restrictions around the globe have made planning Santa’s route almost impossible. To address the issue, Santa has come up with some inventive new initiatives to support the elves, such as encouraging post-Christmas-dinner-naps during the working day. Santa says the plans are now finalised, and he has no plans to outsource his role to local contractors, and so thankfully there are no reindeer-redundancies envisaged in the near future.
Santa tells us that the elve-ployees are all looking forward to the annual grotto-Christmas-party. He has issued the usual warnings about overdoing it on the eggnog and using mistletoe to harass other colleagues. It has been a tree-mendous year overall, and he is excited to see what 2022 brings.