Don’t be a Christmas party pooper!
We all like to celebrate Christmas with colleagues; the end of another year and a chance to let your hair down, and more often than not, the employer will foot the bill. Everyone’s a winner, right? Not always……….
Christmas parties are an extension of work and employers have responsibility for their employees at these functions. Alcohol fuelled arguments, pay rise or flexi-working promises, the drunk driver, the sexist jokes and lewd behaviour all leave a nightmare of HR aftermath and a big clean-up operation.
Any of these types of incidents are capable of being misconduct as the behaviour could be deemed to have occurred during the course of employment. An employer would therefore be vicariously liable and should consider invoking disciplinary process, an absolute anti-climax after what is meant to be a time of fun.
What can you do as an Employer to prevent problems arising?
- Send a reminder to employees in advance, explain that you do not want to be the ‘fun thief’ but you need to remind employees of any relevant policies. Explain that the impact of any misconduct may lead to formal disciplinary action and therefore what are the Company’s expectations as to behaviour. If you are attending a ‘shared’ Christmas party where other businesses will be in attendance, explain that the employees will be representing your business and the expectations of their behaviour are there also to preserve the reputation of the Company.
- Send a reminder to employees confirming that attendance is voluntary and set out expectations around attendance at work for the day/s following the party.
- Don’t provide a ‘free’ bar or excessive drinks on the table, you are just asking for trouble.
Think about having some managers present at the party to keep an eye on things… sending any employees home should things get out of hand.
- Prohibit work vehicles being taken to functions unless the driver is a dedicated sober driver or, arranging for transport home where there is no readily available public transport. Why not send out some public transport options to staff beforehand so they can plan the return leg?
Finally, Christmas parties can be a great morale boost, and no one wants to be a party pooper, therefore, remind employees it is fun, a festive celebration; however, employees who do not adhere to the policy or code of conduct on behaviour spoil the party for everyone.