The office Christmas party

The office Christmas party

As the festive period is very nearly upon us, businesses are preparing for the social highlight of the year… the Christmas party!

It should be enjoyable for everyone, and hopefully be without any embarrassing incidents. Although it is a time to celebrate and have fun, employees should remember that how they behave matters and can have consequences on their working relationships and consequently their employment. It is a common misconception that you cannot be disciplined for anything that happens at the Christmas party if it takes place outside of working hours or off company premises.

Employers should provide clear guidance to their employees about what is and is not acceptable behaviour and any implications of such behaviour. They should be reminded to avoid behaving in such a way that could be viewed as harassment or misconduct otherwise they may find, once Christmas has been and gone, they're party to a disciplinary hearing. Furthermore, any such behaviour outside of the office could bring the company into disrepute. If the company has a 'party' policy, sending this around the business, prior to the celebrations, can act as a reminder.

Tips for the Employer:

  • The Christmas party should not be compulsory. Some may not be able to attend due to other responsibilities or on religious grounds.
  • Managers should avoid conversations about performance, pay or promotion.
  • Limit the amount of free alcohol. In one case, employees were provided with a free bar, their alcohol fuelled behaviour led to a brawl and subsequent dismissal. They successfully argued unfair dismissal as the employer had provided the free alcohol and therefore condoned their behaviour.
  • Any incidences that arise at the party should be dealt with on return to the office and not at the party.

Tips for the employee

  • Dress appropriately.
  • Drink sensibly.
  • Avoid office gossip.

The general rule to follow is that if you wouldn't do it in the office, don't do it at the party! Have fun but remember you don't want to spend the Christmas break worrying about your return to the office!

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