How to handle the Christmas party season
An employer’s responsibilities, work events vs post-party events, handling alcohol and drugs, approaching flirting and flings etc.
It’s that time of the year, festivities are in gear and most employers are readying up to host a Christmas party for their employees. This can range from a small social gathering in the pub after work at the end of a stressful day, to the full-blown Christmas party where the alcohol flows freely all night.
A NerdWallet survey, which included 500 U.K. business owners and managers, found that 36% of businesses are stripping back on their Christmas parties this year to save on costs. Undeniably, the cost of living crisis may affect an employer’s choice to hold a Christmas party, however if this is something you are planning towards, we have outlined some points for you to consider.
In advance of office parties, employers should provide clear written guidelines to members of staff setting out the standard of behaviour expected of them at such events. Employees should be made aware that although a Christmas party, it is still an extension of their place, so the same standards apply.
A practical way of doing this is issuing a short policy on expectations at work related events, alternatively a memo can be issued ahead of the event.
Alcohol consumption and inclusivity
Most Christmas parties see employers offering alcohol on a tab for employees to enjoy. Although alcohol is a focal point, it may leave some members of your work force excluded. It is important an effort is made to include everyone in the celebrations, regardless of their reasons for not drinking i.e., religious belief.
Appointing a ‘sober champion’ (preferably someone senior who remains sober all night) to oversee the party, is a practical way to help to reduce the risk of HR issues arising. The sober champion can try to ensure any potential misbehaviour is spotted and dealt with promptly and effectively before things escalate. Depending on the size of your workforce, you may choose to appoint more than one person.
Conduct at a Christmas
In recent times HR professionals have seen an increase in sexual harassment claims, particularly during workplace events. Secondly due to the nature of a Christmas party employers are having to deal with more cases relating to alcohol and drug misuse. The first point of call is to make sure you have an appropriate policy that lays out the company’s expectations on bulling and the misuse of drugs and alcohol at work.
As an employer it is important you are proactive in ensuring acceptable conduct in your workforce as you could find yourself vicariously liable for the actions of your employees if those actions are deemed to have been committed “in the course of their employment”, whether they were done with the employer’s knowledge or approval.
Make sure employees have the ability to raise complaints in the knowledge that they will be taken seriously and investigated. Having a clear grievance bullying and harassment policy will assist with this.
If you’re a Moorepay customer who’d like support with any of the steps we’ve listed above, you can contact our advice line.