Christmas parties and a gift

There is no requirement in any South African labour legislation, including the Labour Relations Act, 66 of 1995 and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, 75 of 1997, that an employer must host a Christmas party or provide an end-of-year function for employees.

The only other source of such an entitlement could be the employees’ contracts of employment or letters of appointment, or a policy that refers to a Christmas party or function being held each year as a right on the part of the employees. It would be unlikely for a contractual provision or entitlement to be contractually stated.

Accordingly, provided that no clear contractual right to a Christmas party or year-end function exists in any of the above-mentioned documents, employees cannot compel or require the employer to provide them with a Christmas party as a term and condition of employment.

At most, the tradition or practice of hosting such a party could be seen as a work practice. However, recent case law from the Labour Court indicates it is always within the discretion of the employer to change work practices as it sees fit and at its prerogative, provided that the issue at hand has been consulted on with the affected employees.


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