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    The annual works Christmas party is as chance to get together with colleagues and meet with people you may not normally interact with in the workplace. It is an opportunity to boost morale and a chance to let your hair down at the end of the year.

    But at what cost?? At the risk of sounding like Scrooge, the works Christmas party has thrown up (excuse the pun!) a few costly issues for many businesses. How are you managing the risk of a possible tribunal claim? In July 2017, the Supreme Court found that Employment Tribunal Fees were unlawful, and we have seen a rise in the number of claims brought. Are you doing all you can to ensure that you are not having to defend one of them?

    Common issues that arise from the works Christmas party are;
    • Inappropriate behaviour including sexual harassment- was there a complaint of someone brushing their hand over someone’s leg?
    • Conflict between employees, arguments and punch ups are known to happen after consuming too much alcohol.
    • Employees making inappropriate comments to the boss.
    • Complaining to the line manager about not being paid enough or not getting a bonus.
    • Remarks referring to a colleague’s sex, race, religion, belief, disability or sexual orientation.

    What can you do?
    • Set expectations at the start. Employees must understand what is acceptable and what it not. They need to know that the party is an extension of the workplace and highlighting the likely consequences of such behaviour.
    • Be sensible about how much alcohol you are providing. Everyone’s tolerances are different and will react differently.
    • Think about how your employees are getting home safely from the event.
    • Think carefully about making the event as inclusive as possible, so that everyone can enjoy it.
    • If you do receive a complaint about the conduct of an employee, it will be important to investigate the matter, bearing in mind people’s memories may not be clear after consuming alcohol. Ensure that you follow your policy and procedure for such issues.
    • Ensure that you have robust policies and procedures in place and that these are effectively communicated to staff.

    Finally, we hope you do enjoy the festive period and take the opportunity to get to know your colleagues! However, if things don’t go to plan, give us a call on 0161 478 3800.

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