Reduce the risk of trouble at your staff Christmas party

Christmas parties are a chance for an employer to thank their staff for the hard work that they have put in during the year but they also carry potential problems such as post party absences, alcohol related incidents and making promises. Here are a few pointers on how to reduce the risk of trouble at your party and make it a stress – free and enjoyable time both during and after the event.

If a business is open the day after your office party, the employer does need to have reasonable expectations about the staff who turn up for work. The employer also needs to make it clear what they expect about absence. Staff need to know the extent to which an employer will be lenient about late/non – arrival at work and whether disciplinary action will follow if those expectations about attendance/lateness are not met.

It is not uncommon for an employer to have a free bar but this can encourage excessive alcohol intake. If trouble results from an employee drinking excessively such as fighting with a fellow employee, an employer could be seen as condoning the employee’s behaviour by virtue of having provided the free bar. An employer should therefore consider limiting the amount of free alcohol that its staff can have and they should also not be afraid to take an employee to task if they appear to be drinking excessively and/or behaving inappropriately. There are various ways of positively restricting alcohol consumption such as the provision of food and entertainment and soft drinks.

Alcohol consumption can also lead to people having conversations with each other that they do not remember. There have been several instances where staff have brought claims against their employer on the back of “promises” made during Christmas parties that have not then been fulfilled. Most of those claims have failed but it is possible that a promise made could be upheld even if the employer cannot recall the conversation that took place.

Finally, when the party is over, an employer should still consider how their staff are going to get home safely and responsibly. An employer should take steps to ensure that none of its staff drink – drive and that should be spelled out before the party. An employer should also consider laying on transport for its staff (taxi cabs, coaches…) to make sure that their return home is a safe one.
If you require any employment advice or representation, whether you are an employer or employee, feel free to contact Alan Davidson for a consultation: 01756 692 869.

Alan Davidson,
Partner, Employment