Don’t Suffer Legal Hangovers from Christmas 2017
The office Christmas party is often a great way to reward all your staff for their hard work during the preceding 12 months and to bolster staff morale. However it can be a recipe for disaster so far as employment law is concerned. Here are some matters for your consideration this festive season:-
1. Beware of possible discrimination!
Christmas despite all the retail hype is actually a Christian festival, so employers need to be aware that it might be discriminatory to force staff to attend if they wish to decline on the grounds of their own religious beliefs. It might assist if non-alcoholic drinks can be made widely available and that consideration is given to the types of food that are available.
2. Beware of Harassment!
The office party is an extension of the workplace and conduct at the workplace can have employment law consequences. If a member of staff is harassed (sexually or otherwise) by a colleague, then you as the employer could be vicariously liable for this. It might be sensible before the party to send a polite reminder to all staff to be aware of their behaviour and to politely refer them to your staff policies on bullying, harassment and discrimination.
3. Beware of absenteeism!
Quite often the party will lead to a major hangover for some. If the following day is a working day then that can inevitably lead to absences. If at all possible arrange the party for a date when absence will not be an issue, e.g. a Friday or Saturday night if the office is shut at the weekends. Alternatively politely remind staff in advance of the requirements to attend work the following day.
4. Beware of drink driving!
Unfortunately a not completely uncommon problem is the risk of staff driving home after the party after the consumption of alcohol. To try and avoid the risk of this then it might be sensible to lay on free transport and ensure that there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available together with food. It might also be sensible to arrange for the party to finish whilst public transport services are still available.
5. Beware of promises made!
Occasionally the alcohol flowing can lead to the employer and staff talking about matters of future pay and/or promotion and promises being made. Steer away from such conversations, leave these to the office/workplace to avoid hopes being unnecessarily raised.
6. Beware of social media! In the modern age of mobile phone and internet it is almost inevitable that a picture and/or posting will be posted on Facebook or similar social media website almost instantaneously. Such photographs and postings may lead to possible embarrassment or even adverse publicity for the employer. Staff should again be politely warned in advance of the Company’s social media policy and/or you should issue guidelines on the use of social media at the party.
Hopefully your Christmas party will be full of festive fun and you will not need to call an employment lawyer early in the New Year! If unfortunately you do need to, or need advice about your Christmas party arrangements or any other employment issue then please contact Daven Naghen on 01775
722261 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or arrange an appointment to see Daven at our offices at 23 New Road, Spalding, Lincolnshire, PE11 1DH. We wish all our clients a very Happy Christmas and a Prosperous 2017!