Everyone loves a good party, and Christmas presents the perfect opportunity to throw or hold a staff party. It has become the norm that when the festive season begins, a Christmas party is arranged for staff by the business. The Christmas party is often seen as a time for staff to unwind, relax and enjoy themselves, however it is necessary that all appropriate steps are taken to ensure that the Christmas party doesn’t end up effecting the business or staff negatively.
Firstly, businesses need to be clear on what is classed as inappropriate behaviour and make sure there are sanctions in place if someone was to over step the mark and conduct themselves in a way that was not appropriate. There are numerous types of inappropriate conduct such as offensive language, gestures or even sexual harassment. For each level of severity of wrong-doing there needs to be a penalty in place that is appropriate for what has happened.
Throughout the year sexual harassment has been on the tip of everybody’s tongue, with high profile cases coming to light, which has encouraged more and more people to speak out about sexual harassment. Therefore, as the issue has been all over the media, many more people are now aware of their rights. Businesses must now have a zero tolerance on any behaviour that might be considered as sexual harassment, and deals with any incident appropriately.
Furthermore, if during a Christmas party there are claims of wrong doing from other employees, it is vital that the employer investigates every matter thoroughly. This is crucial as the investigation must take place to find out exactly what happened, but also to show that the company will not tolerate any inappropriate conduct whether in or out of work. This links in to the fact that even during a Christmas party the company values still apply, regardless as to whether the party is held offsite.
For the business it is important to implement appropriate and clear boundaries in order to avoid vicarious liability. In a workplace context, an employer can be liable for the acts or omissions of its employees, provided it can be shown that they took place in the course of their employment. This means that if a company were having a party and they knew an employee was driving home but still allowed him to consume alcohol and then on his way home the said employee had an accident and injured somebody else, the company could be vicariously liable as they have allowed the person to drink alcohol in the knowledge that the employee was driving.
Employers must implement measures in order to protect the business. These could range from putting a limit on the amount of alcohol provided or consumed or even providing transport for employees to avoid people resorting to driving.
Finally, we would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas!
If you have any questions regarding this article then please do not hesitate to contact one of the HPC team:
T: 0151 556 1975