It is that time of year again when everyone starts to wind down and enjoy the festivities of the Christmas season. As many business plan their Christmas parties, Dippalli Naik of Vantage Legal Services Ltd reminds us of the issues that can arise at such occasions and how to prevent them ruining the merriment!

As an employer you should know that organising any type of work social function can result in you being potentially liable for the actions of your employees. The following pointers should be borne in mind:

Party rules

Have a specific policy or procedure that deals with work functions and the standards of behaviour expected. When an event is approaching remind employees of the contents via the intranet and public displays around the office. Such a policy should include the following warnings to employees:

  • DON’T expect to get away with ‘free’ time off before or after the event without possible disciplinary consequences. If you need to book appointments or go shopping this should be arranged as annual leave and be responsible about your drinking at the event to avoid sickness absence the next day.
  • DON’T discuss work issues, clients, colleagues or make complaints and avoid making any derogatory comments about the business and the management which could lead to grievances and disciplinary action
  • DON’T get carried away under the mistletoe – it is natural for alcohol to lower people’s inhibitions and loosen their tongues but take it too far and you could be facing claims of sexual harassment the next day
  • DON’T drive the next day after drinking heavily no matter how alert you feel

The more the merrier

Just because employees may be on maternity or sick leave that does not mean they should be forgotten when work events and functions are arranged. Always remember to include them in any invite lists otherwise allegations of discrimination could ensue!

Parties and photocopiers don’t mix

Everyone has heard of stories where someone has got carried away with the photocopier at an office party with huge regrets the following day! To avoid this happening at your company keep the photocopiers locked away from overenthusiastic hands!

Food glorious food

There could always be members of staff with dietary requirements or religious restrictions when it comes to food and drink so remember to check this and cater for all needs.

Drinking and driving

It will be near impossible for an employer to keep an eye on all their employees at a function and even harder to know who has had a little too much. To ensure that there are no accidents resulting in claims and consequential absences to manage, it would be wise where possible and financially viable to arrange for taxis or buses to transport staff home safely.

If you can follow the above guidance everyone should have a safe and enjoyable festive period without any regrets!

Vantage Legal Services Ltd wishes you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Dippalli Naik, Senior Solicitor