Updated: May 7, 2022
December is a funny time of year - fraught with customer orders, year end targets and more social events than you can shake a stick at.
So what do employers need to be extra aware of at the Christmas Do to avoid a tribunal claim in the name of the guy with all the reindeer.
Before we dive in...
We need to talk about Vicarious Liability. Whilst you might think that you can't be held responsible for the actions of your employees outside of the office, in common law an employer is vicariously liable for the wrongdoing of its employees if they are carried out "in the course of employment".
Which means that, as in Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd 2018 if one of your employees gets drunk at the Christmas party and throws a punch, you could be liable for damages caused to the third party.
We don't want to be the fun police, but we don't want to have to contact the actual police during the event!!
So...with that in mind, let's look at the issues that might crop up around the Christmas do.
Breach of Confidentiality
We all know tongues and inhibitions tend to lower when the booze gets a flowing and it's very easy for people to suddenly forget what is confidential and overshare! Even people who ought to know better (HR included!) It doesn't hurt to remind everyone that confidential stuff is still confidential after a vino or two.
Those office flirtations often come out of the closet at the Christmas party, but sometimes it goes too far. What could have started off as a bit of innocent flirting at the vending machine could turn into unwanted physical contact or attention.
Remind staff of what you consider to be inappropriate behaviour and outline your expectations.
Under the Influence of Alcohol
If your Christmas Party is scheduled for a school night - you might need to have some rules about what time people should turn up to work the next day, particularly if they are driving. We don't want anyone at work who wouldn't be under the legal limit to drive, not only because imagine what a pain they would be, but also consider your responsibility to ensure the health and safety of your workforce.
If you're partying on a weeknight, consider allowing a later start time for staff the following day.
See above! But also outline to your staff that illegal substances are not to be present, never mind consumed at a work event. I know, you'd think that goes without saying but believe me...you'd be surprised!!
Drunk & Disorderly Behaviour
There's always one that has too much, goes too far and spoils the night for themselves. Be prepared for these people because they are the most likely to land you in hot water. We don't want to be the fun police, but we don't want to have to contact the actual police during the event!! If someone gets a little too rambunctious, do the right thing and pop them in a taxi home. Don't let it escalate into inappropriate comments or antisocial behaviour.
Other than that, I hope you have a happy, fun and fabulously festive time at your Christmas party this year 🎄🥂
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