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  • Sally Brandon

Tis the season to be jolly

Updated: Jan 18

Christmas is just 40 days away and I am sure you are already thinking about the annual office Christmas party.

It is a time for your team to let their hair down and enjoy themselves however there are so key do’s and don’t to avoid conflict and claims such as bringing the company into disrepute, sexual harassment and violence.

Below are some FAQs that will hopefully answer any questions you have

Do the normal rules of gross misconduct apply at a Christmas Party?

Yes they do. Regardless of if the party is held in pr out of the office it should be considered to be an extension of the workplace, so the same rules will apply. An act of gross misconduct is serious enough to breach the contract between employer and employee and justify summary dismissal. For example if your employee were to hit someone at work, it is likely to be a gross misconduct offence, however at a party lines can get blurred possibly blurred by alcohol which the employer has provided. Other examples are damage to property and harassment of any kind. If an incident occurs which is closely connected to work, and might impact on the working situation, then it is likely that the employer will be able to start a disciplinary investigation.

The DOs and DON’Ts

Generally, Christmas parties are an opportunity for employees to l relax in a social setting and spend time having fun. However what happens at the Christmas party does not always stay at the Christmas party.

DOs for Employers

  • Invite all employees to the party even if absent through sickness, maternity or paternity leave;

  • Remind employees of the company’s expectations and be clear on what will be considered inappropriate behaviour;

  • Control the amount of free alcohol available and make sure non-alcoholic drinks are provided;

  • If food is being served make sure you have considered and catered for everyone including allergies (peanut, gluten etc)

  • Be ready (although hopefully not needed) to deal with any inappropriate behaviour in line with company policy and be consistent in how you apply the policy;

  • Avoid discussions about career prospects or remuneration with employees;

  • Consider nominating a member of management to refrain from alcohol at the event in order to deal with any emergencies or incidents that arise.

Don’ts for Employers

  • Make the party mandatory

  • Ask employees to pay for the party

  • Limit the festivities to Christmas - Most cultures and religions celebrate some holiday in December so be inclusive and encourage celebrating all faiths

DOs for Employees

  • Have Fun

  • Plan how you are getting home (arrange a cab / book a hotel near the party venue)

  • If drinking alcohol know your limits

DON’Ts for Employees

  • Forget you are effectively still ‘at work’, so behave accordingly

  • Drink too much so that you do not know what you are doing

  • Get involved in office gossip or office ‘banter’ which could be offensive

  • Try to discuss why you should have a pay rise with your manager

  • Make any unwelcome advances, sexual or otherwise

  • Become violent or aggressive.

  • Forget to enjoy the event!

If you need any further help book in a free no obligation call

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