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  • Helen Taylor

How to have a work’s “Happy Christmas” party!

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Yay, it’s that time of the year again where businesses and colleagues get together for their annual Christmas party!

Given this is a time for enjoyment and celebration, let’s not focus on what might go wrong from a legal perspective. Instead, let’s look at what can be done to ensure everyone has a great time.

Here are FG Solicitors' top tips for employers

1. Check who’s not on the guest list

It’s important to identify if you have left anyone out. Invitations should be extended to all employees who are absent from the business even if it’s due to sick leave or family friendly leave, such as maternity, paternity or adoption leave.

2. Make the event inclusive

A key consideration is to ensure that everyone is able to join in the festivities. You will need to ensure that disabled employees are able to access the venue.

Non-alcoholic options and alternative dietary arrangements may need to be put in place to cater for people with health issues or those who have specific requirements due to their religion or beliefs. Don’t forget you may also have to accommodate guests who are under 18 years.

While prizes for good endeavours may be on offer, make sure that the offering will not be offensive to the winner.

3. Plan for incidents and emergencies

Managers need to be prepared to deal with inappropriate behaviour and where alcohol is involved this could be fighting, arguing or sexual harassment.

Will you have a nominated person who can take charge, if needed? Ideally, this should be someone who will refrain from drinking alcohol. Any action to be taken must be in line with company procedure.

As an employer you have a duty of care to your employees, which requires you to take some responsibility for them leaving the party. To avoid people attempting to drive after they have been drinking consider making available the details of a local taxi firm they can contact (but be clear who will bear the costs).

4. Issue a gentle reminder to your party goers about their responsibilities

Ensure that everyone is reminded that while the party is out of working hours, it is a work event and they must behave appropriately. It will be important to make the business’ position clear by reminding employees of the following:

  • The standard of conduct required in the workplace will apply equally during the party. This means employees should be mindful that they must not to behave in a way that is likely to damage the business’ reputation. Adhering to the Anti Bullying and Harassment Policy will also be a requirement. Allegations of harassment commonly arise after a Christmas party. It is therefore essential that employees know that it’s not just their actions but also their words that can amount to harassment.

  • People should not get excessively drunk or take recreational drugs.

  • If the party is followed by a working day, employees need to be fit for work the following day. Absences due to overindulgence will not be accepted as a reason for absence; employees will need to factor in the level of alcohol that can be consumed to ensure that they are fit to drive or operate machinery the following day.

It is also worth reminding managers that they should avoid discussing career progression and remuneration with employees. With regard their own behaviour, they need to understand that they are ambassadors for the business.

5. Be clear of the consequence of unacceptable behaviour

Employees should be made aware that unacceptable behaviour will be dealt with under the Disciplinary Procedure.

Setting out expectations and the potential penalties for employees if these are not met, minimises the risk of either the business being held vicariously liable for the actions of a misbehaving employee or reputational damage.

Good planning and communications about expected standards of behaviour will enable everyone to play a part in having a good time.

With the above in mind, FG Solicitors wish

you and your business a “Happy Christmas” party.


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