With the festive season fast approaching and Christmas parties already planned as a celebration to reward the hard work of your employees, now is a good time for employers to think about the problems that might arise at these events and the provisions that should be put in place to avoid the business being liable for the potential behaviour of their employees.
Examples of bad behaviour can include:
- Fights and aggression are often fuelled by alcohol.
- Inappropriate physical behaviour or comments could be viewed as being sexual harassment or discriminatory.
- Damage to property, especially if the event takes place at a hired venue.
Christmas parties are in fact an extension of work and therefore employers cannot just turn a blind eye to any conduct issues either at the event or thereafter.
Below are a few festive tips from Clover HR to ensure that your celebration runs as smoothly as possible whilst keeping your business protected:
- Ensure that you have a bullying and harassment, social media and drugs and alcohol policy in place. Now is a good time of year to remind all the employees of these policies and the expectations that they place on employees. We often suggest a nice festive email with a gentle reminder that the event is an extension of work and that the policies in place still apply in relation to conduct and behaviour and the repercussions for anyone who breaches company standards. The last thing you want is a photo all over social media of an employee acting inappropriately towards another where you are identified as the employer as this could potentially bring the good name of your company into disrepute.
- Consider drink tokens rather than a free bar to avoid encouraging excessive alcohol intake and the problems that come with this. Soft drinks/alcohol-free options should be provided for those that do not consume alcohol. You could also request that the bar staff remain vigilant and identify employees who are intoxicated and firmly refuse to serve them.
- If food is being provided, ensure that you cater for all, including those with any specific dietary requirements or cultural/religious beliefs.
- From a health and safety perspective, if a venue is not easily accessible or large numbers are involved then consider organising transport. You may also want to consider conducting a health and safety risk assessment if the event is not one that is fully organised.
- If the event is taking place during the middle of the working week, remind employees that they will be expected to attend work the following day and that any requests for annual leave will be considered in line with the company’s policy.
If despite these measures, you do have an incident that occurs then please ensure that it is fully investigated promptly, and formal action is taken where necessary to ensure that the message is loud and clear for the following year.
Whether you require advice on putting in place provisions to help your event run smoothly or guidance on handling matters after it has taken place, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Clover HR who will support you through the most sensitive of situations.