The Christmas party is a great opportunity to thank staff, boost morale and celebrate the success of the year. However, the celebrations can be infamous for over indulgence leading to badly behaved employees to which employers can sometimes be held liable. UK legislation makes it clear that the office party is an extension of the normal working environment. Whilst everyone wants to relax and enjoy the festivities it is important that the relevant steps are taken to ensure the celebrations are remembered for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.
In terms of food and drink, it is important employers ensure the variety available at the event caters for all dietary requirements of the workforce. This includes catering for the different rules carried by different religions, as well as food allergies and intolerances. The easiest, and best way to ensure the party caters for everyone’s dietary requirements is to ask employees in advance whether they have any special requirements.
ACAS emphasize the employers’ duty of care towards employees in relation to alcohol consumption at The Christmas party. Many employees think that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol at the celebration is what makes a ‘good’ party, however employers have a duty of care in order to reduce the risks involved with drinking alcohol. It is a good idea to provide phone numbers for local taxi firms to ensure employees are not tempted to drink and drive.
ACAS advises that employers should send out reminders to all employees of relevant policies and procedures that still apply at Christmas Parties, particularly those relating to discriminatory or bullying behaviour. It should also be emphasized to the workforce that they are representing the company even at a Christmas night out, and that any behaviour that could be considered as damaging to the company’s reputation will be dealt with under normal disciplinary procedures.