December 6, 2018
Nobody wants to be a Scrooge at Christmas, but as an employer you need to be aware of the risk of unpleasant incidents occurring and take preventative steps to stop you suffering a hangover and the risk of Employment Tribunals long after the festive period has ended.
Employees may not be aware or understand that whether the party takes place on work premises or at a restaurant or other venue, as it is being held in connection with their employment it is considered a work related outing. For an employer this therefore means that you continue to be responsible (and potentially liable) for your employees actions and well-being.
Office Christmas parties can be a great boost for employee morale, but employers need to be aware of potential risks such as sexual harassment, alcohol-fuelled brawls, religious discrimination and post-party absenteeism amongst other things.
We should all enjoy the festive period but employees well being should be taken into consideration and some simple steps should be taken by employers to readily protect yourselves from the potential fallout of employees bad behaviour.
- Take an inclusive approach and make sure all employees are invited to the party, regardless of sex, age and religious beliefs. Ensure that employees away from the business due to maternity or paternity leave, sickness or any other reason are made aware of all arrangements for the party and receive an invitation. Do not insist that all staff attend the office party; people may wish not to attend due to religious beliefs or family responsibilities amongst other reasons.
- Ensure all policies, including bullying and harassment, social media, are up to date. Does the company have a alcohol and drugs policy in place? Is this something you need to enforce to deal with Christmas lunches during work hours?
- Take extra care not to pressurise individuals into attending the party, it is an individuals choice to attend events and employers should be cautious of making such events compulsory.
- Do ensure that you remind your employees of the social media policy. You want to avoid employees posting pictures or comments of their colleagues after an alcohol fuelled evening. Not only may it cause no end of issues between staff, it could also damage the reputation of the business.
Christmas parties are employee’s opportunity to relax and enjoy the festive period, therefore do not discuss ‘work’ with your employees during the party. Avoid making comments or promises about progression or opportunities across the business after a drink or two; this could just lead to an argument about whether the comment is legally binding.
We at Tayntons hope you enjoy your Christmas Party and wish all of our clients a Merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year.