Twelve Top Tips for a Successful Christmas Do

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The Company Christmas party is a great opportunity for employers to show their appreciation for the hard work of their employees and to boost morale but we all know that after the event, it can sometimes be a difficult time for employers.

Employers can be held liable for the acts and indiscretions of employees during the Christmas party with liability ranging from employees injuring either themselves or others, damage to property, an employee who’s had one drink too many and caused a car accident or the claim of sexual harassment from an employee whose colleague has behaved inappropriately.

Keep informed, take some good advice and put in place some simple precautionary measures beforehand to make sure that everyone can have a safe and enjoyable party without dampening the Christmas spirit, but more importantly to show that you as an employer have taken reasonable steps to prevent such acts and indiscretions.

So what can you do?
  1. Assess the risks. This will both reduce the risk of accidents and help in the defence of a claim should an accident occur.
  2. Show your “duty of care” to your employees by making sure they can all get home safely, particularly where alcohol is available. Consider ending the party before public transport finished or providing transport for everyone. Make it clear to anyone who insists on driving themselves that you expect them to observe the drink-driving laws. Don’t forget too that any employees under the age of 18 should not be allowed or encouraged to drink. Consider placing a limit on the amount of free alcohol available.
  3. Be mindful of the fact that some employees may still be suffering the affects of alcohol the following day particularly if they are driving to work or operating machinery.
  4. If the party is on a weekday, remind staff in advance that unless there is a genuine reason for their absence, you will be expecting them to attend work the following day fully fit to carry out their role otherwise their absence will be treated as unauthorised and may lead to disciplinary action.
  5. Consider inclusivity for all. Be mindful of that fact that we live in a multi-faith society – invite everyone but remember that not all employees will want to be involved in “Christmas” festivities or celebrations where lots of alcohol is going to be consumed. Cater for the needs of all employees and consider any adjustments that need to be made for disabled staff – it’s no good having the dance floor on the first floor when you have an employee who uses a wheelchair and there’s no lift.
  6. Watch out for drugs – it is an offence for an employer to knowingly permit or even to ignore the use of any controlled drugs taking place on their premises or at a work event.
  7. Make sure nobody walks home late at night whether intoxicated or not.
  8. Tell all your staff up front what standards are expected of them and the consequences of not meeting them. If you don’t already have one, consider creating a company policy on standards of behaviour at work-related functions, equal opportunities and anti-harassment and issue them to all staff before the event. Remind your staff that they will still be representing the company when at the party, and their behaviour should reflect this. If you do receive complaints, investigate promptly and treat them with sensitivity, confidentiality and seriousness.
  9. Appoint responsible “monitors” for the evening who can have a quiet word if they observe someone drinking to excess or beginning to harass other staff and remind that person of their responsibility to the company and to their fellow employees. This is an opportunity for management to lead by example by avoiding drinking to excess and making it clear that bad behaviour will not be condoned or tolerated.
  10. If you’re having a party at your own office premises, spend some time making the space party-safe and prohibit the misuse of company property. If you are decorating the office, use a ladder and not a swivel chair and don’t cover up the emergency exit signs with tinsel!
  11. Make sure that any party games and present-giving activities are done in a tasteful way. It may not be a good idea for Santa to ask a member of staff to sit on his knee unless you fancy receiving a harassment claim and make sure too that the gifts are appropriate – gifts of sex toys or skimpy underwear often spark employee complaints.
  12. Make sure common sense prevails and have a great time!

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