The festive season is upon us and attention in workplaces is turning to the office Christmas party, a few drinks and lots of fun (rightly so).   Whilst the Christmas party is a great way to improve staff morale and say ‘thank you’ it can also be an HR nightmare for Employers.  We’ve all heard stories of the office party filled with unwanted advances, inappropriate behaviour, discrimination and so on….

Whether you have been planning for months or are just putting together the final details we wanted to share a few helpful tips to ensure you don’t end up with an HR hangover come the new year.

1.     Who is attending?

It is important to ensure that the Christmas party is open to all employees regardless of age, gender, religion, disability etc. Try and pick a venue/event that everyone can enjoy and won’t just appeal to a certain demographic of the workforce.  Also, don’t forget to invite those on maternity/paternity leave.

2.     Appropriate conduct and behaviour

The key point to remember here is that the Christmas party is an extension of the workplace and as such Employers can still be liable for the behaviour of their employees (such as harassment, discrimination or assault etc.).  It would therefore be advisable to remind employees of the acceptable standards of behaviour expected and that inappropriate actions may lead to a disciplinary.  You may also wish to remind employees of the relevant policies and where they can find them.

3.     Social media

Whilst social media can be a great way to share photos and show what a great place of work your business is, it is also important to have some control over what is shared.  Inappropriate photos can be damaging to the business’ reputation as well as give rise to potential grievances from employees who did not want their embarrassing photos shared online.  So, ensure your social media policy is up to date and protects both the business and its employees.

4.     Take action

In the unfortunate event that someone does overindulge on the mulled wine and oversteps the mark, you have a duty to investigate the situation and take action.  Failure to act could result in a claim further down the line.

5.     Are your policies and procedures up to date?

Before reminding employees, it is a good idea to check and update your currently policies and procedures, particularly relating to Equal Opportunities, Discrimination, Bullying & Harassment and Disciplinary and Grievance.

© Copyright 2018 The Wessex Association of Chambers of Commerce t/a Inspire

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