It’s that exciting time of the year again where you are organising the work Christmas party. Even though it’s the season of free spirit, you may want to retain some degree of control.
Christmas parties are often where many acts of misconduct take place, some of which are mentioned below. You should take reasonable steps to prevent such acts taking place, especially when employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees at office parties.
Even though the party is to be held outside normal working hours, many workplace policies will still apply – the Christmas party is like an extension of working hours. As an employer, it is your duty to remind your employees of these rules.
We would like to give you the following tips:
Having an open bar?
Whilst you may want to be generous and provide free drinks for employees, an open bar can lead to excessive alcohol consumption and increase the chance of misconduct, and believe it or not, many tribunal claims being made against your business. Ensure you have enough soft drinks and water available. As you have a duty of care to your employees, you should advise them in advance that drink driving is not acceptable and that they should have their travel arranged for after the party.
Remember to keep an eye out for the office junior. Those under the age of 18 cannot drink and will be in breach of the law.
Employers should make it clear that excessive alcohol consumption, fighting, other unwanted conduct and will not be tolerated. Employers should highlight that any such behaviour could lead to a formal disciplinary.
Sometimes a joke can get out of order, even though it is meant to be in good fun. Employees should be reminded of what is classed as discrimination. When planning the party, consider the religious views your employees may hold. Ensure that there is a choice of non – alcoholic drinks and ensure that there is a choice of vegetarian foods.
Also, do not pressurise an employee to attend the Christmas Party if they cannot attend due to religious reasons.
Mistletoe at a party may be dangerous. Some employees may laugh off a pass made at them, others may not.
There have been many claims that have been made against a company for sex discrimination and/or harassment from such acts having taken place at a work Christmas party.
Employees should be reminded of the policies and procedures which the company hold on Discrimination. The employer will also be in a good position having these policies in place should as they will know how to deal with the situation at hand.
Don’t give false promises
Promising an employee a pay rise or promotion is not a good idea at a Christmas Party. You need to ensure you manage the employee’s expectations. If you don’t live up to the promise, the employee may easily resign having been grieved by the situation, and you may have a potential constructive unfair dismissal claim against you.
Should the party be held mid-week and employees are expected to be back in the office bright and early the next day, ensure employees are aware that their absence will be monitored and that disciplinary action could be taken, should they not come to work.
Ensure that there are non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food available at the Christmas Party.
Employers should also be vigilant of employees who may still be under the influence of alcohol, especially if they will be driving or operating machinery as part of their job.
Should you have an employment law related query, please contact one of our expert lawyers on 0207 959 2358 now.
From all at Davenport solicitors, have a very Merry Christmas!