November 24, 2014

Christmas parties – it’s not all fun and games

As Christmas draws closer, it’s time to unwind and have fun with your colleagues at the end of the year.

Companies are likely to have more or less the same legal responsibilities at the Christmas Party as during office hours. But with great planning and communication, you can completely avoid any potential problems.

Health & Safety

Safety is obviously one of the main considerations, which is why risk assessment before the event is crucial. This will reduce accident risks and help defend a claim if the worst happens.

It is sensible make sure a few managers are sober in order to look out for any unacceptable or dangerous behaviour.

Try to limit the amount of alcohol available – or at least limit the free bar. Giving some thought to ensuring everyone gets home safely should also be considered.

Discrimination

The other issues to consider are harassment or any other type of discrimination. Even one a relatively minor comment could amount to unlawful harassment – and it’s even more likely when colleagues are drinking.

But other forms of discrimination are less obvious. In some situations, it’s even possible for employers to be liable for harassment by third parties – which may be relevant if clients or suppliers are invited.

Remember to cater to the needs of everyone at the party in order to avoid discrimination – such as ensuring the food meets all religious and cultural requirements as well as having sufficient non-alcoholic drinks, and provision for disabled staff if needed.

It’s a good idea to remind staff that unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated.

Staff members still represent the company when at parties and nights out – remind them of this…and obviously wish them a merry Christmas too. If you would further like employment Health & Safety advice, visit our employer resources section.

Want a round-up of stories like this delivered to your inbox?

About the author

Stuart Clough

Stuart (MCIPR) is a trained journalist, writer and marketer with ten years' experience in B2B, public sector and employee communications. A former marketing consultant and agency client-lead, Stuart is responsible for communications and content at Moorepay.