Christmas Party Time

#HRFridayFact: Your company Christmas party is an extension of work so staff should maintain the same standards and behaviour

Its that time of year again when you’re asked to choose between turkey, beef or butternut squash for the work Christmas party. So here’s a timely reminder that even when it’s held off-site and outside normal business hours, your work’s Christmas Party is deemed as an extension of work.

Employers must continue to take their responsibilities towards their employees seriously, particularly when your employees are together in an out-of-work environment and alcohol plays a part.  

Recent, high profile revelations of unwanted sexual harassment has made it more pertinent than ever to ensure your staff fully understand that behaviour that is considered to be unacceptable in the workplace, will be treated with equal gravity if it occurs at the party. This includes sexist remarks or intimidating conduct.

Its right to reward your team for their hard work throughout the year, and Christmas presents an obvious opportunity for this. It makes sense to take advantage of the festive atmosphere and a party or event can also work as a team building exercise.

Follow our top tips to help ensure your Christmas event goes without a hitch:

  • No-one wants to be a killjoy, but a reminder of the expected standards of behaviour is a good idea. An informal word from a line manager to remind staff that they will still be under work ‘rules’ will probably suffice
  • Make sure that anyone who chooses not to attend the party for whatever reason isn’t disadvantaged. If partygoers get extra time off work make sure that non-partygoers get time off too, even if it’s taken at another time
  • Whilst Christmas is a Christian Religious festival, the Christmas party should be seen as morale booster or team building event whereby employers thank their staff for their hard work and loyalty. As such your celebrations should be designed to include all staff and so should cater for different religions and beliefs
  • Alcohol is likely to feature in most parties and with it comes its own raft of complications. Making soft drinks available should go without saying but if your venue of choice is a pub, its association with alcohol may prove offensive to some
  • Think about briefing speakers or entertainers beforehand to ensure that their material is suitable and won't cause offence or breach the Equality Act 2010
  • People can become less guarded about what they say or do after a drink or two. Even if it’s not intended to be malicious or offensive, a throwaway comment or action by a member of staff can still be received as such by another. As an employer you have a duty of care to protect your staff from inappropriate behaviour from other staff
  • Consider the risks attached to accepting offers from employees to provide food; not just food poisoning but religious and allergy issues too. Sticking with external venues and caterers may be a safer option
  • Your duty of care should extend to getting staff to and from the venue safely. This may mean organising taxis or buses so that no-one is tempted to drink and drive
  • You may want to time the party to minimise impact on workers the following day. If you employ drivers for example, a Friday night party will mean staff are less likely to need to drive the following morning when they might still be under the influence of alcohol
  • If you plan to dock worker’s wages for failing to turn up for work or for turning up late, make sure that clause exists in your staff handbook or contracts of employment or you may expose yourself to a ‘Breach of Contract’ claim

Despite these considerations, remember to enjoy yourselves and have a good time; which will be easier to do if your party runs incident free.

For support with implementing anything mentioned here, or for help dealing with the aftermath of your Christmas Party, please call us on 01452 331331 or e-mail info@hrchampions.co.uk


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01 December 2017, 14:44
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