With the recent spate of sexual harassment cases coming to light, it would not be prudent to ignore the potential of a complaint following a drunken night out when inhibitions may be left at the door following a few glasses of Prosecco. Hopefully, staff will feel able to make such a complaint if they feel that they have been subjected to something they are not comfortable with.
In order to prevent such a situation from occurring employers should draft clear harassment policies or if already in place, remind and train employees so they understand that such behaviour can amount to bullying or harassment – which is unacceptable.
It may be your responsibility to ensure that your staff get home safely following an office Christmas party.
Advice should be issued before the party about not drinking and driving. If possible provide transport home or at the very least make sure that they have contact details for local taxis and/or train and bus times.
You wake up in the morning, check your phone and find a lot of photos that you had forgotten taking. You then check your social media account and your heart sinks, you check your company social media account and you want to dig a hole and bury yourself. Hopefully this does not sound familiar!
Before the party send out a clear policy on social media and posting photos to your social media accounts, both personal and work related. Ensure that every employee is aware of what is acceptable and unacceptable. Remember, if they aren’t sure its best not to do it at all.
Employees who have over indulged at the Christmas party, either by overeating or excessive drinking may not feel like coming into work so phone in sick.
Sickness absence procedures should be well communicated to staff prior to the festive period. If an employee does call in sick then management need to follow their attendance management policy and procedures.
If an employee arrives to work late following the Christmas party then deductions from pay could be made if the right to make deductions from wages for unauthorised absence is written in the employment contract.
If there is cause for complaint from one member of staff about another either during the party or afterwards, employers should follow their usual disciplinary process and ensure it is investigated properly – after the party. Do not try to sort out any issues that arise there and then, judgement may not be the same if people have had a few drinks. Send those involved home and start talks the following the day.
The main point is to ensure that all of your policies and procedures are clearly communicated before the party, and staff are all aware of your expectations of them.
Article originally written in December 2016 by Amanda Pillinger and updated in December 2017 by Johanna Morgan.