Avoiding Christmas Party Pitfalls

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…or is it? As works Christmas parties are now in full swing, here are some things employers should be aware of and some the top tips for a successful evening.

The work Christmas party can be seen as an extension of the workplace when it comes to employment law, whether held on or off site.  As people may indulge in a beverage or two, what they say or do can theoretically be treated the same as if it were ‘during normal office hours’.  Furthermore, if any wrongdoing is “closely connected” to the individual’s employment, the employer could be held accountable for their employees’ actions (vicarious liability).

Here are some pointers to survive the Christmas party without any fallout.

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail…

Invite everyone. Even if people have not attended previous years, ask them.  Ask everyone - regardless of if they are on leave, be it sickness, maternity or paternity leave, holiday or any other leave.

Check that the venue has no accessibility issues.

Ensure your conduct policies are up-to-date and cover in-work events and out-of work social events that are outside of normal hours.

Engage with all staff via email before the night, to wish them an enjoyable evening and give a gentle reminder of expectations that people behave in a manner that represents themselves and the company in a good light.  Similarly, request that any photos taken on the night that do not meet with your social media policy, are not shared.

Doing the things above prior to the event may be invaluable, should something take place where you need to act upon it.

Let’s get the party started…

Remember you have a duty of care in terms of health and safety to your staff.  Consider travel arrangements and the level of alcohol being provided/consumed at the event, and offer alcohol-free options.

Consider everyone’s needs in terms of drink, diet and religion as not everyone partakes in Christmas celebrations and should not feel pressured to do so.  See the event as a chance to reward staff and show the company’s appreciation of the hard work they have put in during the year.  

The after party…

Remembering that all staff were briefed on appropriate behaviour expectations prior to the event - should a situation arise on the night that needs addressing, when back in the office – act as soon as possible.

Should disciplinary action be necessary, remember to act fairly, consistently and without bias.

We really hope that your Christmas Party is enjoyable and passes without any negative incidents but if you do need advice on the issues raised above, please contact me on 01827 317063 or employment@pickerings-solicitors.com


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.