Get ready for the Christmas Party Season with our Employment Law Christmas Party Checklist

Get ready for the Christmas Party Season with our Employment Law Christmas Party Checklist!

It may only be November, but Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier each year. With the shops filling up with all things festive, and local hotels and restaurants advertising their Christmas Party packages, you may well be planning your organisation’s celebration. But are you prepared for the aftermath? While Christmas is a time of goodwill to all, the works Christmas party is traditionally a minefield for staffing issues. Demonstrating that you took steps to prevent unwanted behaviours can protect you as an employer in the event of a legal claim by an employee, so why not be prepared, with our ‘Employment Law’ Christmas party checklist.

  • Consider the timing of your event

After hours events may cause problems for those with childcare responsibilities; events held on particular days – e.g. Fridays – may exclude employees with particular religious beliefs. Consider the makeup of your work force; if practical, it may be an idea to canvas views as to the best days and times of day to hold an event

  • Set behaviour expectations

As an employer, you will probably be liable for behaviour that takes place at your office Christmas Party – this could include, amongst other things, harassment of female employees by male employees (or vice versa), and damage to property. Poor behaviour of your staff can also damage the reputation of your company.Although sending out a staff communication about expected behaviour and the consequences of such behaviour may feel un-Christmassy, it may save you a lot of trouble in the long run.

  • Third Party Harassment

Remember that, as an employer, you can be liable for acts of a third party (that is, someone who is not an employee) at the event if they harass a member of your staff. Choosing your venue with care – for example making sure you have exclusive use of a venue or of a room – can help avoid this.

  • Limit free booze

Add alcohol into the mix and you may be facing problems down the line. You may want to offer some drinks as part of the celebrations, but remember that unlimited free alcohol may lead to drink driving and the other behaviour issues we referred to earlier. It may be better to limit the free alcohol provided, and encourage staff to enjoy soft drinks too. Take into consideration those member of staff who may not drink, and offer free soft drinks too for those that prefer them. Provide plenty of food.

  • Transport issues

To avoid drink driving issues, and other personal security issues, remind staff that they should make sure they stay safe after the event, making their way home, and flag the benefits of pre-booking taxis, arranging to be picked up, or of designating drivers. If the party is to be at a remote location, consider arranging coach or minibus transport for those that want it.

  • Event policing

Again, it’s the Christmas party – a time to celebrate successes in a more relaxed environment – but if things go wrong, the consequences may have a lasting impact on your business. It may be wise to designate a couple of managers to be on hand to keep an eye on proceedings, to watch alcohol intake, and to step in if behaviours seem to be getting out of control. It will keep your staff safer, and may save you a lot of hassle in the long run.

  • Bringing the company into disrepute

We alluded to it above – your staff may behave impeccably towards each other, but what about to staff at your party venue, or to other members of the public, perhaps the coach driver if you arrange transport. With the proliferation of social media, chances are that photos are going to turn up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat featuring #worksdo. All the more reason to make it clear in advance what will and what won’t be tolerated.

  • Hangovers…

The morning after the night before… if you expect staff to be in work the day after your works do, make this clear in advance, and make it clear what the consequences of a no show due to over indulgence will be. Normally, wages can only be deducted if you have the employee’s agreement in advance through the contract of employment, but disciplinary action may also be an option if this is clear in your policies.

 

Approaching these issues in advance can be the best way to ensure your Christmas Party is a great event for everyone concerned. Your staff will have fun and feel valued, and you can relax knowing that you have taken the right steps to protect your employees – and at the same time to protect your organisation!

If you’d like to discuss how to implement any of these steps effectively, or to talk about your employment and HR policies in general, get in touch with our specialist employment law team who will be happy to help!