surinenglish

A self-employed office party

This is the season when the fragment of society with ability, age and the will to work, and is also lucky enough to have a job, can be divided into two groups.

On one hand there are the ones who try to avoid at all costs having to go to the office Christmas party but who force themselves to go to avoid being labelled antisocial. Then there are the others who circle the date on the calendar with red exclamation marks because it's their chance to get tipsy, and they're keen to do it again, despite the fool they made of themselves the previous year.

However that's just the problem of those who can say they work for someone else. Then there are the self-employed; and I'm not talking about small, medium or large companies, but about people who work for themselves, often in professions that are, I won't say liberal, but creative. Those hard workers who can also be called "freelance", that is, they are free of all ties, some because they like it that way, and others because they have no choice.

Well, not content with being able to work all day in their pyjamas, these freelancers have been spotted this week in posh restaurants dining alone. There's nothing wrong with that: it's good from time to time to treat yourself to a fancy lunch, something that can be done any time of the year, and doesn't necessarily have to involve getting plastered. And as freelancers can't stop being creative, now they have come up with organising Christmas dinners with other freelancers they don't know as a way of networking, something which in my case, I can't be bothered with.

What's really more serious is that freelancers don't get a Christmas hamper. To save costs, companies stopped giving them out to employees and the trade unions were quick to respond. The grumbling reached the Supreme Court which has ruled that these Christmas boxes are a worker's right, not a gift.

Out of all these cases, which have almost always ended up with an order to bring back the hampers, or compensate the employees with 60 euros, one stands out - that of Transcom, a company that decided to replace the hampers with a party.

We don't know whether the workers first ate and drank their fill before filing their complaint against the company, but we do know that the court ordered the firm to reinstate the Christmas box, which the previous year had been limited to an exquisite four-euro Panettone: each pinch of cake would have been worth around 30 cents.

What I mean is that the Supreme Court has not, at least for now, gone into considering the content of these sought-after boxes, something it could do, although I prefer not to comment on these things as I've never received one myself. I'm waiting for a freelancers' consortium to bring me one.