An office Christmas party is a chance for employee morale boosting after a year of hard work. It is a chance for everyone to unwind and have an evening of fun with colleagues. However, there are plenty of problems lurking underneath the mistletoe.
5 THINGS TO REMEMBER AT PARTY TIME
1. Company Policies
Everyone wants to enjoy the party without feeling that their behaviour is being scrutinised, however it is imperative to have a clear policy in place to avoid any misunderstandings. Ultimately, employers should implement a policy that is accessible to all employees and which provides clarity on what is expected of them at a company event, and the consequences of any inappropriate behaviour. In the absence of a specific policy for parties, the standard policies within the staff handbook will apply.
It would be easy for an employer to brush off an employee grievance after a party, on the basis that the behaviour took place in a party environment or outside of the office. Employers need to ensure they investigate as they would in every other similar situation, with a view to addressing the employee’s issues through the usual grievance procedure.
Some employers may accept that a slightly fuzzy head might be acceptable the day after the Christmas party and allow a slightly later start. However, disciplinary issues can arise when employees fail to show up for work the morning after. In these circumstances normal disciplinary rules should be applied in relation to unauthorised absence.
4. Social Media
Party banter can often continue after the party, with shared recollections of the evening’s events and photographs. Emails, Facebook and twitter are often used in post party ‘lowdown’ conversations, but employers should also be aware of any inappropriate conversations taking place through these channels. Harassment and bullying claims can often be related to social media and guidance for employees about its use should be given to avoid any of these allegations, though these do not just apply at Christmas.
Many people enjoy a little tipple at the Christmas party. Employers should limit the amount of alcohol that is provided, encourage employees to act responsibly and with respect for their colleagues and most importantly, set an example themselves. It is also important to remember that if Employees drive vehicles or use moving machinery the morning after the night before, they may still be intoxicated.
Most people enjoy the Christmas party and it is a time for people to be able to let their hair down and relax before Christmas, but both employers and employees should be mindful of the pitfalls which can occur. An Employment Practices Liability policy can also be an important extension to a Company’s insurance portfolio to provide protection should it all go wrong!
Merry Christmas and enjoy the party!!