Having fun at work is important. It makes the days go quicker, helps us to build good relationships with our colleagues, and can make us more motivated, productive and happy in our jobs. But what happens if that workplace banter goes too far?

A report by the Financial Times found that tribunal claims related to banter in the workplace increased by a massive 44% between 2020 and 2021 – that’s impressive considering how many of us were working from home during this period. The issue occurs when what one person feels is light-hearted and jovial is interpreted by someone else as insulting or upsetting. And if two people don’t share the same views on what passes as fun, it can lead to problems. Also, it seems to be the case that ‘banter’ is used as an excuse by a lot of employers when in reality the behaviour has erred on the side of bullying, harassment, or discrimination.

It’s really important that employers have a clear and solid policy on what is and isn’t expected from behaviour between colleagues and between managers and employees. If a line is crossed, it could end up costing a business a lot of money in claims – the cap on unfair dismissal claims is £93,878 and there is no cap on claims of discrimination or harassment. If combined with a claim of injury to feelings, you could be looking at a very high pay out indeed.

One very good way of making sure banter doesn’t get out of hand is by giving your people equality and diversity training, online or in person, and a third party (like your friendly outsourced HR experts!) can help with this kind of training for you. Don’t forget that your social media policies should cover this subject too. Many of your employees will be connected on social media platforms, and their interactions there could still affect how a grievance or disciplinary plays out in the workplace. Can we help you make sure the fun doesn’t stop being fun? Just give us a call to see what we can do. 0333 2005153 or contact us online here.