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Too much Christmas cheer – the consequences

Too much Christmas cheer – the consequences

Too much Christmas cheer – the consequences

Date: November 21, 2016

The annual work place Christmas party is a fantastic way to boost morale amongst employees.  It is a great incentive for businesses to reward their staff for their hard work throughout the year, and enables them to bond.  
Our blog explains what common pitfalls to avoid, what happens if staff bonding goes wrong on various levels, and how to ensure that your business is protected from certain headaches of a legal nature during the festive season.

We see many tribunal claims each year through drunken behaviour. Even though the Christmas party may take place in the evening away from work premises it does not mean that employment laws do not apply. We regularly advise our clients to remind their staff of what constitutes as unacceptable behaviour at staff social events and the likely consequences of such behaviour. 

To help minimise the risk of employees getting too drunk and behaving inappropriately, we suggest you can help by limiting the amount of free alcohol, providing non-alcoholic options and supplying plenty of food. enough food can all help minimise the risk of employees getting drunk and behaving inappropriately.  

In order to avoid discrimination, it is advisable to think carefully about making the event welcome for anyone. If partners are to be invited, it is important not to assume the gender of those partners, and it is a Christian holiday, no-one should be pressured to attend if they do not wish to do to on religious grounds.  Respect should be given to employees who don't drink alcohol or who don't eat certain foods.  

Clear written guidance in your staff handbook should be made to all employees about acceptable standards of behaviour at work-related social events and the consequences of breeching it. Guidelines should make clear their stance on staff fighting, excessive alcohol consumption, the use of illegal drugs, inappropriate behaviour, harassment

Employers are likely to remain liable for acts of harassment, discrimination, assault or other unwanted conduct carried out by their employees, if any such allegations are made during or after the event, employers should follow their usual disciplinary process and ensure that any complaint is investigated thoroughly before action is taken.  

If your party is during the working week be clear about your expectations regarding absence or lateness the next working day.  You may however be well advised to show a certain degree of leniency in order to foster the good will of the season!  

If you are organising a Christmas party and would like some advice to help you reduce the risk of discrimination, harassment and unfair dismissal claims contact Michael Menzies-Baird by calling 01482 231300.