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14th November 2016

Black Friday has typically been a US tradition but in the past couple of years it has made its way across the pond. This year, Black Friday is 25th November with Cyber Monday – traditionally the biggest online shopping day of the year – following closely behind on Monday 28th November. With most retailers offering huge discounts on products, can employees resist the urge to do their Christmas shopping while on the clock?

Geoff Isherwood, Legal Services Manager at ELAS says: “Most employers have policies covering the use of office computers, internet and phones but all good employers will usually allow their employees some usage during lunch breaks, particularly in the run up to Christmas. However it is worthwhile sending out an early memo to remind employees of these rules and the fact that breaches of these policies can easily lead to termination of employment in some cases. This is especially relevant for employees who have been with a company for less than two years, or those who are already on serious current warnings.

“Employees should also be reminded that personal use during working times when they are being paid and accepting payment for this time is fraudulent. It could also cause complaints from clients due to delays in service which could bring the company into disrepute or cause loss of trade. In extreme cases this could, potentially, lead to redundancies. Any sensible employee should realise this and resist the urge to put their job at risk, considering the knock-on effect which this could have on their home lives.”

This year, retailers are expected to roll out promotions across the whole week in an effort to avoid the website meltdowns and in store fights which we have seen in previous years. Potentially this could be good for employers as people will have more time to browse the deals outside of office hours, however some might be more distracted throughout the week looking to get the best deals. Nowadays everyone has a mobile phone and with the temptation right there at your fingertips, Geoff Isherwood says it’s important to let employees know that time wasting will not be tolerated.

He says: “No one wants to have to take disciplinary action against an employee as a result of online shopping, but it is advisable that this step should be taken if the internet policy is breached. Another thing which employers should consider in the aftermath of Black Friday and Cyber Monday is staff arranging to have their purchases delivered to the work address. Large companies whose post intake generates a lot of administration could discover that vital hours are being lost as a result of sorting packages which are not work-related. Employers are well within their rights to ban this practice if they believe it is affecting productivity and they can do so by implementing a fair and equal blanket policy.”

Last year UK shoppers splashed £1.1bn on Black Friday and £968m on Cyber Monday, up from £720m in 2014.


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