Party season is upon us and CIPD research has shown that 60% of employers were laying on a party or lunch as a perk for staff. Whilst Christmas parties are a great way for employees to relax, unwind and have some fun together, they can sometimes result in employment issues.
Boosting staff morale through events like this can be an important part of supporting your workforce but gently reminding employees beforehand of their responsibilities, can keep the party going whilst also protecting your employees and your Company.
It is important to note that events such as office party’s or after work socials are legally considered to be an extension of the workplace and so it is important that staff understand that their behaviour should be appropriate at all times. Employer’s could be held liable for discriminatory behaviour such as sexual harassment that occurs in such environments.
These are our top tips to ensuring the event is remembered for the right reason:
- Attendance should be optional, and colleagues should not be treated differently if they decline the invite
- Remind everyone of the need for appropriate behaviour. The event is a work-related activity and will be governed by the company’s disciplinary procedure
- You may want to share your conduct at work policy and / or your drugs / alcohol misuse policy
- If food is on offer, consider dietary requirements and preferences
- A couple of complimentary drinks sends a clear message about expectations as compared with an open bar. Remember to offer non-alcoholic drinks as well
- Ensure under 18s are not drinking
- Encourage people to consider religious sensitivities
- Avoid mistletoe and other gimmicks that you know are likely to lead to problems
- Consider ways to encourage employees to get home safely like providing a minibus or cab sharing
- Communicate work expectations for the next day, especially if it is a working day and be clear on expected start times
If something does happen at the event these are the best steps to take:
- Don’t panic
- Make sure the behaviour is stopped by asking the offending employee to leave / get them a cab home if necessary. Check that everyone is ok. Call the party to a close if necessary.
- Make a note of the details including the date, time, who was present and the incident details
- Deal with it in the workplace through the appropriate policy and not whilst in the event itself
We are available to advise on these issues if you need us. For more information please contact us here.