The Christmas party can be a great way to boost staff morale. Most employers will be aware that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace and that the usual obligations apply. What this means in practice, however, can be more difficult to determine.
Below are some practical tips to ensure that your Christmas party is an enjoyable event.
Tip 1 - Remember employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees including harassment, discrimination and personal injury. Communicating expectations of appropriate behavior at the party to all staff in advance (including social media activity) can help to prevent issues arising and may also be relevant in the event that you are faced with a complaint following the party. Try to ensure that you strike the right tone when communicating with staff to avoid dampening festive spirit.
Tip 2 - Remember to invite all employees, even those on family-related or sickness absence, to the party. Failure to do so may cause bad feeling. Try to make the party inclusive for those who do not celebrate Christmas.
Tip 3 - Take a sensible approach to alcohol. An employer was found to have unfairly dismissed three employees who became involved in a fight during a work party on the basis that the employer had supplied the employees with large amounts of alcohol over an extended period which contributed to the violent conduct. Consider providing food, non-alcoholic drinks and entertainment to avoid employees just propping up the bar.
Tip 4 - Managers should avoid conversations about performance, promotion etc. There are reported employment tribunal claims arising out of offers being made during a party, which the manager conveniently forgetting the next day.
Tip 5- State when the party finishes. This may assist an employer to show that any post-party get together was not an extension of the workplace and therefore the employer should not be held liable for an employee’s actions at the post-party get together.
Tip 6 - The employer’s duty of care extends to the journey home. Ensure employees can travel home safely from the venue.
Tip 7- If you require employees to attend work the following day, be clear on expectations regarding lateness and absence. Advise employees that driving to work if they have been drinking late into the evening before is not acceptable.