Practical Christmas Party Guidance

What should you consider this festive season to prevent issues from arising?

Ok, so it is that time of year again and the employment lawyers/HR people are all writing about the perils and pitfalls of Christmas Parties, but what’s the big deal you may ask? It’s only a bit of harmless fun, a time to let loose and celebrate the years success. Well let’s start with the risk to your business if things go wrong at a work social event:

  • Unhappy staff – if they fall out with each other or an incident arises;
  • Employment Tribunal claim for discrimination;
  • Reputation risk if your staff are in the local community for their party/event;
  • If things go really badly, they could be in the local or national press for all the wrong reasons;
  • At the extreme end there could be police involvement (not unheard of!).

Taking all of these things into consideration why would you not want to take a few moments to read these tips and issue a statement to all staff.

Action to take in advance

  1. Issue a statement to all staff reminding them of acceptable conduct at the party (see example below – feel free to copy and use this for your business/organisation).
  2. Remind staff about the usage of social media and what is and is not acceptable – remind them that not all colleagues would like their picture on social media, and that they should ensure all persons pictured consent before posting online.
  3. Designate a sober manager or senior person to attend the party.
  4. Make sure arrangements have been made for safe travel home from the venue, office or event.
  5. Deal with any incidents or complaints in a timely manner, ensuring you follow your internal procedures.
  6. Ensure that you consider anyone who does not want to join in with the party, for whatever reason. Make sure they feel included and are not isolated. Perhaps consider offering two alternative festive activities for staff.

Example Statement

Christmas Party

Important — All Employees Must Read

It is that time of year again and as you are aware, we will be celebrating the festive season and your hard work and contribution to the success of [ENTER BUSINESS NAME].

This is just a quick note to remind you that this is a work event and as such an appropriate standard of conduct is expected. You are therefore required to conduct yourselves in an appropriate, mature and responsible manner throughout the evening.

Drugs and alcohol

Alcohol should be consumed in moderation.

You should not drink and drive. If you will be drinking alcohol, please make arrangements in advance to get home, for example by public transport or taxi. Never use unlicensed taxis. We can provide details of local taxi firms if necessary.

The use of illegal drugs is strictly prohibited, and we operate a zero-tolerance policy. Anyone in possession of or under the influence of drugs will be removed immediately, reported to the police and likely to result in the termination of your employment.

Behaviour

The Christmas party is an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy ourselves. However, please remember the party is a work function and accordingly, you must behave appropriately.

Improper conduct or other unacceptable behaviour will not be tolerated and is a serious disciplinary matter. This includes excessive drunkenness, the use of illegal drugs, unlawful or inappropriate discrimination or harassment, violence such as fighting or aggressive behaviour and serious verbal abuse or the use of other inappropriate language, whether this is towards a fellow employee, an invited guest or a member of the public.

Please be aware that such misconduct may amount to gross misconduct depending on the circumstances of the case, and possible dismissal without notice.

Health and Safety

Under health and safety legislation, you have a general duty to take reasonable care of your own health and safety and that of others who may be affected by your acts or omissions. Please bear this in mind when consuming alcohol.

[NAME] has agreed to be the dedicated ‘sober’ person who will be on hand to provide help and assistance to anyone who may need it during the course of the party or afterwards.

Social Media

Remember, what you post online, whether on your personal profile or not, could have an impact on our reputation.

If you are going to take and post photos of colleagues remember that they may not want their picture online and so you should ask their permission first before sharing.

Next day working

Finally, you are reminded that if you are scheduled to work the following day, unless you have arranged in advance to take this as annual leave, you must attend for work on time and in an appropriate state.

Any unauthorised absence on the day after the party will be treated as a disciplinary issue. Therefore, if you are genuinely absent due to sickness on this day you must obtain confirmation from your GP in the form of a letter or fitness for work certificate.

A hangover is not an unacceptable reason for sickness absence.

Thank you for your hard work this year and please have an enjoyable evening.


My passion is to help employers and business owners to be the best employers they can and therefore if you want to be the best employer in your industry drop me an email to arrange a no obligation discussion and quote. Email: [email protected]


This article was written by Alison Colley, Solicitor and Founder of Real Employment Law Advice.

 Don’t forget getting advice from a Solicitor does not have to be complicated or costly!

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The information contained in this blog post is provided for guidance and is a snapshot of the law at the time it is written. It is provided for your information only and should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice that it specific to your particular circumstances.

The guidance should not be relied upon in any decision making process. It is strongly recommended that you seek advice before taking action.

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