The Santa Clause - Employment Law Troubles In Lapland

18 December 2018

by Tom Sutherland

You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why.  Santa Claus is coming to town… 

Yes, Christmas is nearly here and, as with most years, Santa Claus is at the centre of shop displays and advertisements.

However, in recent years, Santa has faced a lot of competition, mostly from online retailers.  This is a natural consequence of Santa not having an online presence but, obviously, Santa remains reliant on Christmas spirit, rather than finances, to run his operation.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t prevent Santa from having employment law-related issues in Lapland and, as per usual, he needs a bit of advice to ensure that Christmas isn’t cancelled!  So, let’s snowand help Santa (sorry)!

The first issue this year is, weirdly, related to the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR).  You see, both the reindeer and elves are paid in mince pies and, of late, there has been some friction due to the elves getting wind that the reindeer may receive more mince pies than them!  In particular, the elves fear that Rudolph receives double their allowance for the supposed reason of ‘needing them to keep his nose red and bright’!  Santa is very concerned that the elves, who are very technologically savvy (particularly as they build the latest computers and games consoles), may try and access the electronic files containing the reindeer mince pie allocations and, obviously, if that happens, he will have a data protection breach under the GDPR.  What should Santa do?

Well, Santa should ensure he updates his data protection policies (i.e. those covering the Data Protection Act 1998 aren’t sufficient to cover the GDPR 2018) and, also, ensure that salary-related files are password protected and either stored on a separate server or in an inaccessible part of the server (except for those who are authorised to do so).

The second issue this year relates to Santa’s expert team of leopard seal product testers. Why does Santa use seals to test products? Because he needs a seal of approval on each present (sorry again!). However, this year, one of the longest serving seals, Snowball Sugarplum seal, tried to eat a penguin colleague. Why? Well, leopard seals are known to eat penguins when hungry and Mr Snowball Sugarplum missed his lunch break and tried to ‘pick up a penguin’ for a snack (again sorry!)

Naturally, this is a delicate situation because, on the one hand, trying to kill and eat a colleague is definitely a gross misconduct offence but, on the other hand, the penguin in question is happy to forgive Snowball Sugarplum as long as Santa guarantees that he gets regular (non-penguin) food breaks. On this occasion, whilst Santa could dismiss Snowball Sugarplum for gross misconduct, he has the discretion to avoid doing so and keep employing him (particularly if the penguin concerned has a forgiving attitude).  In saying this, Santa should obviously enforce Snowball Sugarplum’s regular food breaks and, also, perhaps amend his role so he doesn’t come into contact with penguins during the working day.

Finally, we return to our good friend, Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. Unfortunately, Rudolph has developed a condition which has caused his fur to shed throughout the year. Due to this, he isn’t fit to help Santa fly his sleigh due to his lack of fur meaning that he is likely to be subjected to sub-zero temperatures without protection from the cold.  Due to his despair at the situation, Rudolph has submitted a letter of resignation to Santa. Naturally, Santa doesn’t want to accept this and wonders what he can do?

Well, Santa is fine to have a chat with Rudolph before actioning his resignation. In this case, Santa can ask Rudolph to re-consider and state that, as per the carol, without his bright, red nose, he wouldn’t be able to guide his sleigh at night. Santa could then offer Rudolph a reasonable adjustment to help him fly (i.e. a nice, thick coat or any other solution that will keep Rudolph warm whilst flying the sleigh) and, hopefully, Rudolph will retract his resignation and avoid Santa having to finally resort to the boring 21st century solution of fitting headlights to his sleigh.

So, there we go.  Santa can take digital action to stop his elves snooping at the reindeer’s mince pie allowance, use his discretion to avoid dismissing a well-intentioned (but hungry) seal and,finally, provide a reasonable adjustment to Rudolph to ensure that his red nose helps fly his sleigh. Christmas is saved!

So whilst Santa follows his employment law advice and prepares for the big day, I hope your mulled wine is punchy, your mince pies are tasty and you enjoy all the Christmas films you can muster! Merry Christmas in advance everyone!


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