The Do’s and Don’ts of the Christmas Work Party

Christmas is a time for socialising and having fun, getting together with family and friends and enjoying some festive cheer. It is also a time for the work social event of the year; the Christmas party. Employees look forward to a night out courtesy of their employer. Employers, however, can dread this yearly event as it can cause a minefield of issues for them. Whilst the employer will want their employees to have fun, everyone needs to remember these essential points to ensure the working relationship remains intact:

  1. It is a work function so all the policies and procedures regarding conduct and discipline contained within the employee’s employment contract still apply. The employer should ensure that its disciplinary procedures include workplace social events.
  2. Employers have a duty of care towards their employees outside the office walls and can be held liable for the acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees in the course of employment.
  3. An employee can find themselves subject to a disciplinary process and can even face dismissal following a work night out, so be sure to act appropriately.
  4. If more than one employee has been involved in an incident, employers should ensure that they conduct a thorough investigation as memories may be blurred by alcohol. All parties should be treated the same if the evidence is unclear.
  5. The day after the night before…… you wake up with a hangover but are due to be in work at 9am, You can’t face it and you phone in sick. Your employer will have their own opinion on this, but it must follow the company attendance policy to ensure that it acts fairly.
  6. Whatever action an employer decides to take against its employees they should ensure they follow their own disciplinary procedure. There should be an investigation into the conduct of the employee, a disciplinary hearing and a written decision. The employee should then be given the opportunity to appeal any decision.
  7. Employers should be consistent with their sanctions to ensure fairness for all.

Many employers have scrapped Christmas parties due to the potential issues which may occur. Do not ruin it for everyone else – take care, stay sensible and enjoy it! And remember – ‘Tis the season for love and understanding,