During the Festive season, most businesses recognise that festive parties or other social gatherings are an excellent opportunity to build rapport with colleagues and let off some steam after a stressful year at work.
However, employees must remember that they are still responsible for conducting themselves in a way which promotes a positive company reputation, and that drunkenness should not be an excuse for misconduct. The best way to reinforce this is for HR officers, line managers and upper management to lead by example and effectively promote good company practice when it comes to appropriate behaviour.
Here are 5 HR issues for employers to consider when organising an office party during the Festive season:
It is important to be mindful of this when arranging work-related recreational events. Employers remain liable for acts of unlawful discrimination committed by employees during these types of events if appropriate steps have not taken to prevent this. This is regardless of whether the incident occurs during the champagne reception or the after party at the end of the evening.
Implementing Clear Policies
If employers have policies that provide clear guidelines on the standard of behaviour expected at work-related events, and what possible implications (up to and including dismissal) could result from inappropriate behaviour, then this will go a long way towards ensuring the entire workforce understand what is expected of them during a Festive party, or any other work-related social events.
Larger organisations may also benefit from appointing individuals to supervise social events so that staff can come to them to raise any concerns. They should be provided with guidelines on dealing with drunk or disorderly employees and they should be advised to remain sober during the event.
While your employees will relish the thought, having a free bar also encourages excessive drinking, so it can be advisable to limit free alcohol and ensure that some low alcohol or alcohol–free alternatives are also available.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees and so must consider how they get home after any work-related events. It may also be beneficial to consider hiring taxis or coaches for the end of the night. Employers may also provide telephone numbers for local taxi firms, or public transport times well in advance.
The morning after the night before
If you do find yourself receiving calls from employees the following morning, advising that they are feeling unwell, it is important not to jump to conclusions and reserve judgement until return to work meetings have been conducted in the normal way.
When referring to the case of Bhara vs Ikea Ltd, two employees were dismissed from their roles, following a fight which occurred after the Christmas party, despite both parties maintaining this was nothing more than a playful wrestling match, so it is well worth reminding employees that their actions have consequences.
However, it is equally important for all staff to be given an opportunity to enjoy themselves and dance the night away so, making sure the required preventative measures are taken will ensure that an enjoyable night is had by all!
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.
For more information about the services that we provide at HR Services Scotland, please get in touch with us here.