19th December 2021

Employment Law Advent Calendar: Day 19

It’s the 19th of December and do you know how snowmen get around? They ride an icicle! Look behind door number 19 to find out who or what is there to help employers can ‘Step into Christmas’ with happy employees.

It’s the office water cooler

Many of us may be working from ho-ho-home this Christmas but that won’t stop the office gossips. A new year can often signal changes at work and the gossips are likely to be out in full force stirring up trouble and rumours.

The solution? Control the lines of communication and keep employees informed so they don’t rely on informal channels.

Is there anything employers can do if gossip crosses the line from harmless water cooler variety to something potentially harmful or the sharing of confidential information? The problem is employees can each have their own definition of gossip and employers will never be able to stop employees from talking, that’s human nature. However, it is important to for policies such as the disciplinary policy and anti-bullying and harassment policy to clearly explain what is and is not considered to be acceptable behaviour and for employees to be educated on how easy it is for something intended to be harmful chat or banter may actually be harassment and discrimination.  Disciplinary action can be taken against any employee found to be breaching these policies and the disciplinary sanction will depend on the seriousness of the misconduct and any mitigating circumstances. 

Make sure you elf a merry little Christmas and contact a member of the Blackadders Employment Team working in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth and across Scotland for help and advice.

Donna Reynolds, Partner
Accredited by the Law Society of Scotland as a Specialist in Employment Law & Discrimination Law
Employment Law
Blackadders LLP


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