Are you planning your Christmas party?
Whilst this can provide a great opportunity for employees to relax and socialise with colleagues, whilst allowing you to show appreciation for their efforts throughout the year, Christmas parties can also be problematic from an employment law perspective.
This is because such events are deemed to be an extension of the workplace, which means that employers can be liable for any inappropriate behaviour, discrimination or harassment which takes place when alcohol is flowing and spirits are high.
To minimise the risk of Employment Tribunal claims and other legal liabilities, employers are advised to:
- Be clear about company policies on equal opportunities, anti-harassment and bullying before the event.
- Train managers and supervisors in equal opportunities and harassment issues.
- Appoint ‘party supervisors’ to oversee such events and intervene in any inappropriate behaviour.
- In the days or weeks leading up to the event, issue memos to all staff, setting out the standards of behaviour expected of them and confirming that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated.
- Deal quickly and effectively with complaints and take appropriate disciplinary action if necessary.
- Limit the amount of free alcohol provided, provide plenty of food and non alcoholic drinks and hire transport to and from the venue, to avoid any injury or accidents caused by the over-consumption of alcohol.
- Invite all employees to the party, including those who may be away from the workplace, for example due to sickness, maternity or shared parental leave.
- Ensure that specific dietary requirements due to religion or beliefs have been taken into consideration.
These steps will help minimise the likelihood of any claims or liabilities arising and ensure that you have taken reasonable steps to prevent any unacceptable behaviour, discrimination or harassment.
Emma Newbould, Employment Partner, Napthens LLP – QCS Expert Employment Law Contributor
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