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There will be major changes to Southern and Gatwick Express services this Christmas and New Year due to engineering works taking place.

Southern has urged passengers to check before they travel over the Christmas period and also to allow extra time for their journey because of the disruption.

The Network Rail project at Purley will sever the main line, which means that there will be changes to trains to Gatwick Airport from London and coastal services to London from 11pm on Christmas Eve until 4am on Monday 4th January.

As a result, there will be no trains between South Croydon and Redhill and no Thameslink services between East Croydon and Three Bridges. Travelling by train between London and the coast will still be viable however, the journeys will be diverted and take longer and be busier.

There will be bus replacements to make sure that passengers can complete their journeys during this busy time.

“This is a major piece of engineering work by Network Rail and when finished, will provide a more reliable infrastructure at a critical point on our network,” said a Southern and Gatwick Express spokesperson. “We’re putting arrangements in place to keep passengers moving while these essential works are being done.”

Although the Gatwick Express service will not run over Christmas, travelling by train to Gatwick Airport from Brighton or coastal stations will not be affected.

Details of Christmas service routes and frequencies can be found here.

Details of journeys and train times are now available here.

Many customers will walk into shops and wonder why Christmas stock is out already, especially considering that Halloween hasn’t come and gone yet. Cards, jumpers, advent calendars, you name it and it is likely that somewhere it’s already being sold 3 months ahead.

There will be many struggles over Christmas for customers such as busy periods and not being able to shop with ease, not knowing what to buy someone else or even trying to find the right priced shops can be difficult. The main realisation over Christmas however, may not be the problems customers face but instead, it’ll be the supermarkets.

The German discounter supermarkets such as Aldi and Lidl are already on the rise and with Christmas coming, who knows how much profit they will make compared to the big four. It is safe to say that Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons may have been in the lead once and still are but they are also gradually losing sales growth.

Aldi and Lidl provide much cheaper alternatives and it is getting much more difficult for the bigger supermarkets to compete with low prices. Christmas especially will be a time when people want to stock up, buy presents and get more for their money and the discounter supermarkets will be the place to get better value. Lidl has already started selling advent calendars and boxes of Quality Streets and if anything, they will be cheaper even if it is by a few pence.

The discounters are not just beneficial for the customers but also for employees. Recently it was announced that from October, Lidl would be the first UK supermarket to pay the minimum wage as recommended by the Living Wage Foundation. Employees would earn a minimum of £8.20 per hour across England, Scotland and Wales. However, in London they would earn £9.35 per hour. To add to that, Lidl also said that if the Living Wage Foundation were to change this in its annual announcement in November, it would adjust the minimum wage again.

There will always be room for the more expensive supermarkets such as Waitrose because not everyone goes for the cheapest price. However, the majority wants quality and if the discounters can provide that, there is no reason why they wouldn’t come out on top.

As the season of good will approaches, many of you will be organising your annual staff parties.  Christmas parties are a great way of motivating and thanking staff for all of their hard work over the year. Staff parties should be happy, positive events which staff look forward to and enjoy. Rachel Smith-Twigger, employment law specialist at Stephen Rimmer LLP shares her top tips on how to ensure your Christmas party is the friendly affair it should be:

Be inclusive

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Christmas parties are not normally associated with celebrating the Christian faith. But if the reverse is true, beware! You could discriminate against non Christian workers unless you also celebrate their religious holidays. Be considerate and try to adopt an embrace all approach.Ensure there is a wide variety of drinks and food to cater for all requirements. Consider whether the entertainment could offend and whether you also need to offer a celebratory focus for your non Christian members of staff.

Risk Assess

Risk assess your party ahead of time. An event closely linked to the business is likely to fall within the remit of health and safety so make sure you notify workers of potential hazards in advance and consider issues such as transport and accessibility for your less able staff.

Make sure staff behave

Claims for harassment against employers extend to complaints by employees that they have been harassed by their colleagues. Lewd comments, over familiarity or forcing colleagues to dance are all acts capable of amounting to harassment so do provide training and policies on equal opportunities which specifically encompass the subject of staff parties. Issue a ‘work related event’ policy setting out the standards of conduct expected and reminding employees that alcohol should only be consumed in moderation. Ensure that senior personnel maintain the same standards and ‘lead by example.’

Unauthorised Absences

Ensure that equal opportunity policies are distributed to all employees and operate a system recording this has been done. Write to employees ahead of parties emphasising that unauthorised absence following staff events will be dealt with by way of disciplinary action. If an employee reports in sick the morning after, properly investigate first before settling on disciplinary action. Treat all employees consistently in order to reduce the risk of constructively unfair dismissal and / or discrimination claims.

 

 

In a recent survey more than 1,000 people from the United Kingdom were asked questions about their Christmas spending plans and habits. The results are shown in this infographic which makes for interesting reading and can give you a good comparison regarding what you spend each year.

The Cost of Christmas in Britain

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.