Christmas parties may seem like the ideal opportunity to let your hair down and dance the night away with your work colleagues, however, they are not always plain sailing for employers. Work Christmas parties are likely to be seen as an extension of the working day so employers may potentially be liable for any actions taken by employees during these. Here are some tips to reduce the potential for Tribunal claims:
1. Be aware of other religions and cultures You should remember that Christmas is ultimately a Christian holiday and that staff will have different religious beliefs or even different beliefs on what Christmas is to them. You should respect all differing views, as not doing this could potentially lead to claims of religious discrimination. For example, you could change the name of the Christmas party to simply a ‘work party’.
2. Is a free bar the best idea? Promoting, or supplementing, alcohol use at parties will point towards you condoning drunkenness. Rather than having a free bar throughout the whole of the party you could consider ‘happy hours’ or a ‘one free drink on arrival’ scheme and you should also make sure that there are plenty of soft drinks available throughout the whole occasion.
3. Make employees aware what is expected of them Before the party, send out a memo or email explaining to your employees what behaviour you will consider inappropriate at the party, what you are expecting of them and make them aware of possible consequences of bad behaviour. This will show a Tribunal that you have taken steps to prevent trouble and, by making employees aware of unacceptable behaviour, you can then discipline them after the event for breaching this.
4. Think about what is going to happen after the party You should consider what your employees are going to do after the party as it may be decided that you are responsible for their journey home. Before the party, you could promote public transport to and from the venue, make arrangements with a local taxi firm to have cut-price fares on the night or promote a ‘designated driver’ scheme.If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772.