The Christmas party should be something that everyone looks forward to but there can be pitfalls for employers. Read on to find out what you need to think about if you don’t want to risk some unwelcome repercussions in the new year.
One of the major things that employers need to remember is to invite everyone. This includes people off on holiday, sick, on family leave, or on long-term sick leave and applies to both informal and formal events. In some cases, failure to do this can support a constructive dismissal claim and prompt people who feel they have been spurned by their employers to commence a claim for constructive dismissal, further information on which can be seen here: https://www.employmentlawfriend.co.uk/constructive-dismissal.
The basic premise is that every member of the workplace should be involved in all communications about the Christmas party and treated as if they are at work, even if they are not physically in attendance. Legally, employers probably don’t have to include agency staff in the invitations, although there can be a business benefit. People who are invited and involved are more likely to feel more engaged with the company.
Prepare the workforce
Along with the invitations, it is a good idea for employers to remind workers that the party will still be a work event and be clear about the expected standards of behaviour and the implications of any malfeasance.
Don’t force people to go
Unless the party is being held during the normal working day, the office party should never be considered as an obligatory event. Even if it is during the working day, anyone’s right to simply do their job as usual should also be respected. Some will not celebrate Christmas.
Social media policy
In an online world, all employers need to be clear on their social media policy. This is especially important when it comes to the Christmas party as no employer wants a live stream of a drunken argument or the CEO falling over streamed all over social media.
Employers should offer workers some pre-party advice about what is expected of them and the potential implications of doing anything to damage the company’s reputation.
If you are an employee and feel that you have been unfairly treated, help is available and the Citizens Advice website is often a good place to start.
Other things to consider
Beware of the Secret Santa idea and if you do decide to allow it, make sure staff know to avoid offensive gifts and to put a limit on spending. It is also a good idea to give staff an unpressurised choice about whether to take part and perhaps allow them to put their names in a hat to avoid highlighting who isn’t involved.
Employers can still be held liable for things that happen or are said at these events. There have even been legal cases where bosses have had to fight claims arising from drunken party promises of pay rises or promotions.
After the event
Some employers will have to face the aftermath of Christmas party events, whether that is dealing with inappropriate behaviour or people who don’t turn up for work. You could choose disciplinary sanctions but ensure that a fair procedure is used in line with your company’s disciplinary procedures.