It took visits from three ghosts, one hellish mid-winter night before Mr Ebenezer Scrooge decided to embrace the Christmas spirit and treat his long suffering clerk, poor Bob Cratchet, with a little more cheer. Things have changed a little since then and these days most employers lay on some sort of Christmas party or meal for their staff. However, employers should not forget that employment law still applies at work social events, even where these take place outside of the usual workplace. Employers could, for example, be liable for acts of harassment between employees during a night out.
Alcohol is involved in the majority of Christmas parties. However, it is often the alcohol which can make things turn sour. Alcohol tends to make people lose their inhibitions, more likely to be aggressive, to speak their mind and fall out.
There are some practical ways in which you might seek to limit alcohol consumption. If the event is likely to go on late into the evening, consider whether you really want everyone to start drinking at lunchtime. Would a later start time be more appropriate? If you usually start off with afternoon drinks at your Christmas do, letting staff go home at lunchtime to get ready may encourage them to accept the new format. Including food as part of the event may also result in people drinking less.
Employers should also try to make the celebration as inclusive as possible. Some people choose not to drink due to personal, cultural or religious reasons. Employers should do what they can to allow everyone to take part and enjoy themselves.
Employers should embrace Christmas festivities as an opportunity to get everyone together and build rapport. Research shows that happier employees are, generally, more productive employees. With a little forward planning you should be able to ensure that everyone has a great time and that no one accuses you of being “Bah Humbug”.
For further advice on employment matters contact our Employment Law team.
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