The Christmas Party Season – Avoiding An End Of Year Catastrophe
The Law Of…Avoiding Disaster At This Year's Christmas Party
End of year functions are a fantastic way to unwind, reward staff and boost morale. That being said, problems may still arise. If they are not properly handled, you could be dealing with consequences far worse than a hangover whether you are an employer or an employee.
David Hession, Employment Law Associate, gives a few tips on how you can keep yourself, and your job prospects, safe at this year's Christmas party.
A work Christmas party will more often than not take place in a bar or pub. This is a great chance to unwind with your colleagues and get to know them in a more sociable environment. You could even view it as a team-building exercise if you are an employer, a way to become more comfortable with your employees and visa-versa.
Just remember that whilst you may not be at work, these are still the people you work with. Making inappropriate remarks that people find offensive could damage your relationship with your employees. Just because this occurs outside of the office environment does not mean there will not be any backlash, and the laws in relation to workplace discrimination could still apply.
Inappropriate behaviour could result in tribunals claims being issued against an employer, or an employee facing disciplinary action, regardless of the social setting. It is important to highlight that, while the point of a Christmas party is to have fun, the usual rules in the workplace can still apply.
If the end year party does take place in a pub or bar, or a function room that provides alcohol, it is perfectly reasonable for colleagues to have a few drinks, if they choose to. It can be difficult to prevent employees from overindulging, especially where alcohol is readily available. However, if the party is privately arranged, then an employer may wish to limit the amount of free alcohol available, or serve adequate food to help reduce consumption.
Alcohol affects everyone differently and tolerance is governed by multiple factors, many of which are liable to change over time. Drunken behaviour can be potentially damaging for everyone involved. An intoxicated employee may do or say things they will regret, upsetting or even harming themselves or others.
If the task has fallen to you to plan the Christmas party, it is important to ensure that the event is inclusive to everyone. Try and be aware of employees who have certain dietary requirements. Failing to consider points like these could lead to people becoming offended or even seriously ill if their allergies are severe. A chain email, documenting things like the entertainment, food and venue, as well as the price, is a good idea. Those with certain needs are then reassured that they will be met and your event may be more successful.
Any venues selected for the party should be checked to make sure they have disabled access, or any other features that may be required by staff that have disabilities. Likewise, make sure any entertainment booked is suitable for your staff. For instance, if a member of your workforce suffers from epilepsy, it is your responsibility to make sure the DJ is aware and does not use any vibrant or flash lighting.
Getting Home Safely At The End Of The Night
Most employees can arrange or share a taxi by themselves, especially if the function is in a town centre. But if you opted to have the work Christmas party somewhere a little more remote, for example at a hotel or space out of the city perhaps, then it could be worth arranging a shuttle bus or minicabs for the end of the night.
Have You Been Mistreated At The Christmas Work Do?
Just because you are outside of the normal office environment does not mean that employment legislation will not apply. An employer may want to refer to their own policies and procedures when applying any rules for the Christmas party. If you have been mistreated as an employee, perhaps during your end of year party, or are an employer who has witnessed staff behaving inappropriately and are unsure how to take action, then contact one of our Employment Law Solicitors today.
Our trained specialists can assist you with any claims you may want to take to tribunal, or simply provide information on the whole process. You can get in touch using our freephone number or by using our online enquiry form.