With both Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2015 set to break last year’s records, and retailers such as Amazon, Apple and Debenhams scheduled to cut prices on November 27 and 30, employment law expert ELAS Business Support is warning UK businesses to be vigilant or risk losing valuable hours.
ELAS head of consultancy, Peter Mooney, says: “Retailers across the UK reported record figures following 2014’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. However, not every business had cause for such celebration. With more than £810 million spent on approximately 404,835 online orders on Black Friday and a further £650 million spent on Cyber Monday, productivity in the workplace took a considerable slide, costing the UK economy millions of pounds in lost working hours over the two days.
“Unlike the US, we don’t have the luxury of Black Friday or Cyber Monday falling on a national holiday, so any time spent scouring the internet for a bargain will most likely take place during work hours. And, although it’s understandable that no one wants to miss out on a pre-Christmas bargain, employees need to know that browsing and buying during contracted work hours isn’t acceptable.”
ELAS advises that in the run up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, employers must have a clear internet policy in place and ensure that it is properly implemented with the appropriate training given.
Peter adds: “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.
“If reminding staff of a policy isn’t enough to get the message across (which can be the case in larger companies) it’s a good idea to have engaged content filters on all work computers to block access to retail websites. This may seem like a drastic step, so to keep up morale, staff should be allowed to access their favourite sites during breaks, with firewalls lifted during those periods only.
“It doesn’t all have to be doom and gloom when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If employers take this annual sales bonanza into account well in advance, they can offer their employees the opportunity to use some of their annual leave allowance to go shopping.
“Another thing employers also need to consider is the aftermath from Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with staff arranging to have their bargains delivered to the work address. Large companies whose post intake generates a lot of administration on a daily basis, could discover that vital hours are being lost as a result of sorting packages that 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.”