Works Christmas Party!
Posted: Friday December 13 2019
By: Banner Jones
Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, and as an employer it can also be an opportunity to thank your employees for their hard work throughout the year in the form of a Christmas party. The Christmas party may represent a focal point for you as an employer, however, we would always advise that you proceed with caution to prevent costly disputes from arising. A drink, at your expense, though possibly seen as a rite of passage, can sometimes lead as far as a costly dispute. Disputes, harassment and discrimination can all occur wherever excessive drinking is involved. A common misconception is that because the Christmas party is usually held outside of the workplace, an employer won’t be liable if something goes wrong. This is not true. Employers are responsible for their employees actions carried out in the course of their employment, which normally includes events organised by management, such as the Christmas party.
By Katie Ash & Sara Ellison Employment Lawyers for Banner Jones
Though this may sound bleak, you do not have to turn your elaborate plans in to a teetotal soiree! Employers can only be considered liable if they have failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the discrimination and harassment. Any potential claim against an employer can also be minimised by providing the correct training and ensuring employees are aware of the consequences of discrimination or other inappropriate behaviour.
Employers also have a duty of care to their employees under section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. This means an employer has to take reasonable steps to ensure employees are not in any danger. In practice, and with regard to the Christmas party, the employer must consider travel arrangements for its employees, so for example ending the party whilst public transport is still available or encouraging staff to use local taxi companies may be one solution.
A prudent employer should understand that Christmas parties, if not managed correctly can give rise to a host of problems, some of which have already been mentioned.