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  • Writer's picture Lyndsay Salmon

Staff Xmas parties

‘Tis the season to be jolly... or not so much so if you're the poor manager left dealing with the aftermath of the annual staff knees up!

Each year my inbox has at least a couple of tales of woe. Last year was the very drunk employee on maternity leave who slapped the woman covering her role accusing her of 'stealing my job,’ ... oh yes! Then there was the new office junior who sat at his desk slurping champagne straight from the bottle after a Christmas lunch, who then fell down the stairs on his way home and broke his ankle. Less ho ho ho and more ho-ho-hospital please!

Employees and employers are sometimes under the misconception that if an incident happens outside of work time or not in the usual work place then company policy or employment legislation isn't applicable, however, case law has found otherwise on numerous occasions.

So without cancelling Christmas, how can you ensure that staff behave appropriately and minimise the risk of employer liability for any misbehaviour? Here are a few suggestions:

· I suggest that you plan your event carefully. Think about when people will be eating and drinking and perhaps limit the pre-dinner drinks period.

· Consider how people will be getting home, providing free booze could make you liable if the employee decides to then drive home and has an accident.

· Make sure your equal opportunities and bullying/harassment policies and training are up to date and communicated. These should also cover conduct at work-related events such as Christmas parties even if offsite or out of hours.

· Send a statement to all employees in advance of a party, setting out the standards of behaviour and conduct expected from them and the consequences if they fail to do so. This can be incorporated into the invite and cover expectations of guests/spouses too.

If you need some advice or a suggested statement to issue, then give us a call.

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