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The most wonderful time of the year

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CHRISTMAS is a joyous time with Carol singing, gift giving, peace and happiness all throughout the land… pure Christmassy bliss.

Christmas parties though, can be the polar opposite!

Where does your employer responsibilities lie when organising a Christmas function whilst keeping in the Christmas spirit?

The number one underlying problem, is that of drunk and disorderly behaviour. There’s nothing wrong with a few beers to celebrate the working year but if people go too far, equipment, furniture and ultimately, feelings, could get damaged.

More so, in the alcohol-fuelled, setting of Christmas party, emotions can be thrown to the sky and unwanted violence and sexual advances can rear their ugly heads.

Staff have a right to feel safe in the workplace, and that includes Christmas parties – so outline expectations beforehand.

This can be done with a simple email to staff, but outlining appropriate behaviour in a policy on work-related social events will help deal with any unruly activities.

Likewise, if you spot somebody causing tension at the party, a subtle word in the ear is often enough deterrent to prevent explosive altercations. That’s why it is always better as a manager/business owner to have your wits about you and stay relatively sober.

So that’s the party boxed off, onto the next door on the advent calendar… the morning after.

‘Sick days’ can also be common after a Christmas party, when in reality, people are tired, hungover etc.

Outline beforehand the expectation for staff to be in work following a Christmas function or advise them to book a days annual leave if they have doubts of making it into the office!

Should any employee fail to comply with the basic standards outlined by yourself, take HR action.

This could be as simple as calling someone in for an informal chat, as tricky as requiring some workplace mediation to resolve a bubbling conflict, or as shocking as taking serious disciplinary action.

The Equality Act 2010 holds employers liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees in the course of employment, unless they can show that they took reasonable steps to prevent such acts. There have been tribunal cases that identify a staff function as being an extension of the workplace and the employer has been held accountable.

Let’s not be “Bah Humbug”! Get in touch with Spire HR to ensure your party is a Joyous occasion.

ellen.parkin@spirehr.co.uk

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