Christmas Festivities at Work
  • 21st Dec 2018
  • Article written by Louise Purcell
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Many years have passed since that most miserable of employers - Ebenezer Scrooge, said “Bah Humbug!” to Christmas celebrations.

These days, most employers try to organise some sort of Christmas celebration for their employees. To my mind, this is a far preferable a form of team building than any outward bound activity. I personally, would much rather be invited to a festive roast lunch and a glass of fizz, than to be abandoned with my colleagues in the middle of the Lake District on a miserable January weekend with a can of baked beans!

That said, most Christmas celebrations involve alcohol. Of course, this is fine provided that it is handled sensibly and that consumption of the hard stuff is in moderation. It is usually only when people overdo it, that things go wrong.

Employers need to be aware that they can be held liable for the actions of their employees at parties, where such actions are deemed to have been within the course of employment. Whether or not such acts are in the course of employment is a fine balance and employers are well advised to err on the side of caution.

If you want to ensure that your Christmas event, is remembered for all of the right reasons and doesn’t result in an employment headache for the New Year, then I would suggest the following practical tips:

  • Plan ahead and work out ways in which you can put a sensible limit on the consumption of alcohol.
  • For example, can you combine the event with a practical activity which will reduce the number of drinks which people enjoy?
  • Can you reduce the length of the event? Would starting an hour later, minimise the number of hours that people will be drinking?
  • Would arranging transport to take employees back to the office/home be a good idea? This may be more likely to ensure that the event ends at a sensible time, before people are too tipsy.
  • Be direct with your employees. Explain to them that whilst you want everyone to have a good time, you don’t expect people to become drunk or behave badly.

Whatever we employment lawyers may say, I’m reliably informed that the vast majority of Christmas celebrations are successful. However, it is always best to plan ahead and to minimise the risk of things going wrong.

We at Whitehead Monckton, would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!