The risks for employers during this festive period

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Christmas – a time for celebrating and the staff Christmas party is a great way of rewarding your hard-working employees. However, as an employer, are you aware that the party season can expose you to an increased risk of claims including discrimination, harassment and personal injury? ACAS have previously issued advice on the do’s and don’ts of Christmas parties and so let Astons’ take you through some of the main points for this Christmas.

Do you know that employment laws apply even when a party takes place somewhere other than in the workplace:

Tribunal claims can be brought against employers for incidents such as sexual harassment, discrimination or bullying that take place at work-related social events, even if these events are not on the employer’s premises. Many of these incidents can be as a result of alcohol-induced behaviour. Why not send out an email to staff prior to your party, reminding them of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour and highlighting the potential consequences of such action? You are not being a party-pooper, just a responsible employer.

Eat, drink and be merry…

You need to be especially careful when it comes to alcohol, particularly if it is free and flowing. Keep a watchful eye on anyone drinking excessively, particularly if you offer a free bar, to ensure you do not receive an unwanted Christmas gift of a personal injury claim. Ensure there is a plentiful supply of non-alcoholic drinks available and consider providing food to minimise the risk of staff becoming intoxicated.

‘Tis the season to be driven…

Remember you have a duty of care to your staff and this can mean stopping anyone who has drunk too much from driving home. Think about ending the party before public transport stops running and providing telephone numbers for local taxi companies or even providing minibuses which can reduce the risk of being held accountable if a member of staff (or a member of the public) is harmed while drink-driving home from an office party.

And finally…

Here at Astons’ we do not want to spoil your fun over the festive season but with a little forward planning, you can ensure that you enjoy the festivities just as much as your staff. If you are concerned with any aspect of HR or employment law, please feel free to contact us on 01327 706700 to arrange a meeting – free mince pies with every meeting! Ho Ho Ho

P.S did you know that…?

If an employer gives a seasonal gift to an employee annually, for example, a £50 Christmas voucher, then through custom and practice this could become an implied term in an employee’s contract of employment, entitling the employee to a £50 Christmas voucher, or an equivalent gift, every Christmas.