The advice includes: choosing a venue that is unlikely to offend employees of a particular religion or sex, reminding employees of what constitutes acceptable behaviour and how to deal with allegations of inappropriate behaviour.
Party organisers were also advised to control the amount of free alcohol available while supplying plenty of soft drinks and food. “Drink-fuelled behaviour is the root cause of many tribunal claims each year, so employers should set clear guidelines on the accepted standards of behaviour at office Christmas parties,” said the law firm.
‘Excessive alcohol consumption’
“Employers should make it clear that excessive alcohol consumption, fighting, other unwanted conduct and discriminatory remarks will not be tolerated. Employers should also highlight any likely consequences or disciplinary sanctions which could result from such behaviour.”
Also featured was advice to avoid discussions about career prospects or remuneration with employees, as words of encouragement and good intentions could be misinterpreted.
See Eversheds’ full seven-point check list below.
The law firm said: “While no one wants to be the office scrooge and take away the positive outcomes of an office Christmas party, employers should be aware of the risk of unsavoury incidents that could occur at such events and take steps to minimise the risks and provide a safe environment for employees.”
‘No one wants to be the office scrooge’
Whether an office Christmas party takes place within working hours, out of hours, in the office or away from the office, it should be considered an extension of the working environment, advised the firm.
Meanwhile, Eversheds had a special warning about social media platforms including: Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. “It is very tempting for users of these sites to upload photos of their colleagues often looking a bit worse for wear,” said the firm.
“This could raise data protection issues if those appearing in photos have not consented to their images being uploaded on to social media sites. There is also a risk of employees posting inappropriate messages on social media sites which could cause offence or embarrassment to anyone referred to in the post or to the employer.”
Read more advice on how to run a safe, legal and decent Christmas party here.
Seven Christmas party tips
- Make the event inclusive and remember employees who are on family related leave or sick leave
- Opt for a venue which is accessible to all employees and which is not likely to offend employees of a particular religion or sex
- Select entertainment that is not likely to be viewed as offensive by any employees
- Remind employees about the company’s expectations and policies in relation to disciplinary and grievance, harassment, and social media and define acceptable behaviour
- Control the amount of free alcohol available, supply plenty of soft drinks and food bearing in mind employees who do not drink alcohol or have dietary requirements;
- Be prepared to deal with any allegations, inappropriate behaviour and violence seriously and sympathetically in line with the company’s policies and procedures;
- Avoid discussions about career prospects or remuneration with employees, as words of encouragement and good intentions could be misinterpreted.