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Christmas Party – make sure you don’t end up in an employment tribunal!



Christmas Party – make sure you don’t end up in an employment tribunal!


The Invitation

Don’t insist that all staff attend the Christmas party. Christmas is a Christian holiday, so don’t pressure someone to attend if they don’t want to on religious grounds.

Secret Santa

If you ask people to bring a ‘Secret Santa’ gift, make sure they are inoffensive. Things like underwear and sex toys – may spark complaints and could be seen as harassment.

Husbands, wives and life partners

If you’re inviting employee’s partners to the party don’t forget to include partners of the opposite and same sex, as well as husband and wives, to avoid potential sexual orientation discrimination claims.

Avoid ‘tipple tapple’

Avoid discussing promotion or pay increases with employees who may use the situation to discuss matters that are more suited to a private meeting. The employee is likely to expect any career promises to be kept – even if you can’t remember the conversation!

Curb drink driving

You are responsible for your employees’ actions after they have consumed alcohol provided by you. It might be a good idea to hire a minibus or provide the numbers of local taxis to show that reasonable steps were taken to minimise this risk.

Don’t expect miracles the morning after

Decide how lenient you’re going to be to staff coming to work with a hangover, arriving late, or even not at all. Contractual they must be in a fit state to carry out the work they are paid to do. Tell them beforehand not to drink too much or better still have the christmas party on a night when they don’t have to work the next day.

Age limits

Don’t allow under-18’s to drink. In an extreme example, an employer was found responsible for the death of a girl at an office party due to alcohol poisoning.

Misguided by mistletoe

Your staff policies on bullying, harassment and discrimination still apply at the office christmas party make sure everyone knows this. You could end up paying for unwanted advances between co-workers if a tribunal sees the behaviour as evidence of victimisation or harassment.

Free booze

Be careful if you provide free drink or put a credit card behind a bar. In one case, three employees got drunk and had a fight after a seminar. They successfully argued that their dismissals were unfair because their employer had provided a free bar – and therefore condoned their behaviour.

Don’t ignore drugs in the loos

It is an offence for an employer to knowingly permit or ignore the use, production or supply of any uncontrolled drugs, from cannabis to cocaine, taking place on their premises. There may also be a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Don’t let this spoil your christmas party – enjoy!


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