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Your Office Christmas Party

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Towards the end of summer companies tend to start putting those finishing touches to the Staff Christmas Party Plans! But beware the Employment Law pitfalls.

It is important that all employees regardless of their age, sex, religion and disability are catered for when planning a Christmas party. Not all employees will want to be involved in Christmas festivities and should not be forced to, or made to feel uncomfortable if they choose not to attend the Christmas Party. There may be faith and/or personal reasons why they do not wish to attend. If they refuse, then accept that refusal, but explain that if they should change their minds they would be more than welcome to attend.
It is important to remember that as an employer you still have a duty of care to your employees at events organised by the Company. When it comes to celebrating the festivities with a free bar for staff, employers may want to rethink this as it can be a bad idea. You may think this is the perfect present for your employees at the end of a long and hard year but according to a poll by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), alcohol-fuelled punch-ups and threatening behaviour are at the top of the list of reasons for disciplinary action following the staff Christmas party.
Under your duty of care for your employees, encouraging excessive drinking would not be a wise move. Instead fulfil your duty of care to your employees by limiting the supply to two alcoholic drinks per employee and have plenty of low alcoholic alternatives, soft drinks and water available so that there are plenty of options available while also ensuring that non-drinking staff are included in the celebrations.
The timing of your event is also important. To avoid employees failing to attend work the following day, it is best to organise the event for a Friday or Saturday evening, but ensure that you give employees plenty of notice to allow those with caring responsibilities to make arrangements.
In line with your duty of care for your employees, business owners need to ensure that employees get home safely. With this in mind it’s wise to draw the party to a close at a time where public transport is still available, or if you are able to, arrange for transport to pick your employees up and take them home.