Workplace wellness

How companies can avoid a Christmas party HR nightmare

20 Dec 2018

Christmas is a great time of year, but it brings a unique set of HR challenges.

Employers need to make sure that the Christmas celebrations aren't overshadowed by potential claims such as harassment, misconduct, absenteeism, religious discrimination or unfair dismissal. That means ensuring all policies and procedures relating to work social events, disciplinary action and equality of treatment are up to date.

Any social event involving employees straight after work or as part of a work party fall under the remit of 'course of employment'. As a result, employers are vicariously responsible for any unacceptable behaviour. For example, an employer who provides a free bar could face charges of unfair dismissal if a staff member is let go due to abusive or inappropriate drunken behaviour.

As the festive period progresses, the number of unauthorised absences often increases. Employers need to make sure staff are fully aware of the policies regarding annual leave or arriving late for work.

Christmas parties are notorious hotbeds of workplace gossip. Employers must be clear with staff members that any gossip that could cause harm to others may result in disciplinary action. Subjects such as promotion and salaries should also be avoided by managers – any promises could be seen as legally binding commitments down the line.

Employers can protect themselves by remembering a few simple rules.

· Do not insist all staff attend the office Christmas party – some may not celebrate this Christian holiday

· Make the event inclusive – from the venue to the food and drink on offer

· Make sure employees understand what constitutes unacceptable behaviour and its consequences

· Be clear about the consequences of being absent the day after an event

· Avoid topics such as salary or career prospects when speaking with staff after a few drinks

That said, we do hope you have a great Christmas and have fun at the office party!

If you would like to speak with us about finding the right talent for your marketing and creative roles, get in touch with the team today.



Avoid topics such as salary or career prospects when speaking with staff after a few drinks
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