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Friday, 29 November 2019 14:40

Preparing for the Christmas Party

The Christmas works party season is upon us once more and with it, herewith our annual blog post to help you avoid any unwanted incidents and to remind you of your responsibilities and duty of care towards your staff members.

As ever, the absolute key point to remember is 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. For this reason, make sure that your staff understand this and that behaviour that is deemed as unacceptable in the workplace will be considered equally so if it occurs at the party.

When alcohol is involved, people can become less guarded about what they say or do; some can lose their inhibitions altogether after a drink or two. As an employer you have a duty of care to protect your staff from inappropriate behaviour from other members of staff. So 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.

Moreover, there have been numerous cases of physical violence or unwanted sexual harassment towards others at work events over the years. The #Metoo movement has raised the profile of the latter more recently; however, just because there’s greater general awareness of what is and what isn’t acceptable, don’t rely on your employees to just know. Make a point of communicating what is expected of employees and what stance the organisation will take on any contravention of your guidelines. We’re not suggesting you send out a company-wide memo. Cascading the information down through line managers is probably a more subtle route.

We’re living in a more inclusive society so you’ll also need to be sympathetic to the different religions and beliefs of your staff. Remember some may not be comfortable where there is alcohol or gambling. If someone’s religion makes it difficult for them to attend your party for example, you might want to look at offering an alternative. A paid for Christmas party should be considered a reward after all for the contributions your staff have made to your business during the year.

Also consider the food you have on offer. Religion will play a part here as well but with the rise of veganism you don’t want to be accused of making it more difficult for some people to fully take part.

Make sure that everyone can get home safely too. Because of the nature of a celebratory event, your duty of care should extend further than a normal day at work. Make an effort to ensure your employees have a safe method for getting home and where necessary, lay on transport. Equally, make allowances if you have work the next day. Some staff may still be over the legal driving limit the following morning so it wouldn’t be correct to expect company vehicle drivers to operate as usual.

Here’s a quick checklist to help your event go without incident:

  • Remind your staff of the expected standards of behaviour; informally of this will work best
  • Ensure anyone who chooses not to attend the party isn’t disadvantaged or treated differently
  • Despite Christmas being a religious festival, the Christmas party should be seen as morale booster or reward so try to design it to include all staff and cater for different beliefs
  • Alcohol is likely to feature in most parties but make sure soft drinks are available too
  • As an employer, it’s your duty to protect your staff from inappropriate behaviour from other staff members
  • Consider both the Health & Safety and religious implications attached to accepting offers from employees to provide food. 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. A Friday night party will mean staff are less likely to need to drive the following morning
  • 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
  • Finally, remember that this is an opportunity for staff members to enjoy themselves and let their hair down, so you don’t want to be a complete killjoy. It’s still okay to have fun.

If you need support or advice about the information contained here, or if you find yourself in a position following a Christmas event where some external help might be appreciated, please contact us on 01452 331331 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 320 times Last modified on Friday, 29 November 2019 15:27

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