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Christmas is Coming Beware

Christmas is coming, so the party season is nearly upon us. Business owners want their employees to have a great time at the office Christmas party.

Did you know that, as an employer, you are responsible if any of your employees misbehave? Setting clear guidelines, in advance, will help avoid any awkward situations.

There have been a number of cases at employment tribunals relating to work related Christmas parties.

It is necessary to clearly state that drunken and/or disorderly behaviour, illegal drug taking, verbal/physical abuse, sexual harassment or discrimination of any kind is strictly prohibited and is likely to result in disciplinary action.

An employment tribunal held that it was reasonable for an employer to dismiss an employee for punching a colleague in the face during the walk home from the Christmas party. The employee in question argued that this was nothing to do with work as it happened outside the workplace. The tribunal, however, held that the incident following the Christmas party was sufficiently closely connected to work, so it was the party itself that created the situation resulting in the incident, i.e. the walk home.

Make sure that your bullying and harassment, equal opportunities, grievance, disciplinary and social media polices are up to date and that employees have been reminded of them.

It is also a good idea to have a “Work related social events policy” in place which can state what type of behaviour is not acceptable.

You are not being a kill joy, you are protecting your business from a potential claim that will not only be costly, but will harm your reputation.

Can we help? Contact Nichola Coulthard at

Coulthard Human Resources – it’s hard enough being an employer, so it’s our aim to remove your pain

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