In order to make this party inclusive it is important to recognise that employees come from a variety of cultural backgrounds and religious beliefs, all of which are worthy of respect. A “Christmas” party only acknowledges those religions and cultures that accept “Christmas” and can be particularly exclusive to other religions that have festivals at the same time that are not acknowledged. There is no rule that says that the party has to be a “Christmas” one. It can just as easily be an “end of year” or “office” party and that is inclusive of everyone.
Be sensitive to the views and beliefs of your staff. Make sure that there is a large selection of non-alcoholic drinks available for those who wish to avoid alcohol for any reason, religious or otherwise. When providing food be sure to take into account any dietary restrictions that staff may have. Make sure that there is a reasonable amount of vegetarian food and that this is not mixed in with the meat. Look at getting food that is halal or kosher and make sure that all the food is clearly labelled so it can be easily identified. It is not hard to show a little consideration.
Where this is a company organised event the company can be held liable for the activities of its employees at the party itself insofar as they are reasonably foreseeable and the company has not taken all reasonable steps to prevent them. Drunken behaviour at a party where the company is providing alcohol is predictable so companies need to take steps to manage this and ensure that employees know what is expected of them. Set out that any unacceptable behaviour, including breaches of the bullying and harassment procedures, will be subject to the company disciplinary procedure in the same way as if they occurred in the workplace during normal working hours.
Employers should encourage responsible drinking. Try to limit the amount of free alcohol available to each person and ensure that bar staff are instructed to refuse to serve alcohol where appropriate. Consider allowing unlimited soft drinks to all employees but limit any free alcohol to a responsible level. It shouldn’t be necessary for the employees to get drunk in order to enjoy themselves.
For any further clarification, please call our 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.