Employment Law Tips for Surviving the Christmas Party!

December 6, 2022

By Fflur Jones

It’s that time of year again! Whilst the workplace Christmas party should be fun for all involved, our employment law solicitors have advised on plenty of parties that have gone wrong over the years. Here we share our top tips for surviving the Christmas party.

Whilst a Christmas party will often be held away from the workplace and outside of normal hours, it’s a well-established principle that a work-related gathering such as a Christmas party will be deemed an “extension of the workplace” for employment law purposes. This means that anything said or done during a Christmas party can potentially be treated as if it was done during the normal course of employment. Throw in a fair bit of alcohol and this can prove a risky environment for employers.

Having dealt with the fall-out from plenty of Christmas parties for clients over the years, here are our top tips for employers:

Before the party…

  • Make sure to invite everyone. This will include any staff on maternity or paternity leave, sickness absence or any other leave.
  • Check the accessibility of the party venue to ensure that it doesn’t cause problems for those with disabilities or accessibility issues.
  • Check your policies. Make sure that your conduct policies are up-to-date and that they also expressly cover conduct in work social events outside of normal hours.
  • Send a very gentle reminder of the need for good behaviour. We accept that it’s tricky to do this without sounding like a scrooge, but it can prove invaluable if you need to take action later down the line.

During the party…

  • Your duty to look out for the health and safety of your staff continues throughout any work social events outside of normal hours. You must therefore think about any health and safety risks related to the event, including travel arrangements and also be mindful of the level of alcohol being consumed.
  • Get everyone involved. Christmas parties are a chance to celebrate the past year and the year to come, and not just a celebration for those who celebrate Christmas.  You should make sure that everyone feels included so consider offering alcohol-free options and suitable halal, kosher, vegan and vegetarian food options at the event.
  • Get ahead of social media. It may be a good time to make sure that your social media policy is up to date and that your staff are familiar with the policy.  The last thing you need is drunk photos of you or your staff causing embarrassment online.

After the party…

  • Deal with any problems straight away. Any issues at the party will need to be dealt with as soon as possible after.  You will have already gently warned staff of the need for good behaviour, so you may have to carry out disciplinary action if necessary.
  • Be consistent. If a few employees were involved in the same incident, all of them should be dealt with fairly and without bias.

If you need any help with navigating any of the issues raised above, please contact Fflur Jones on 02920829117 or fjones@darwingray.com for a free initial chat to see how we can help you.

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