Employers must beware the ‘office party promise’

Employers should ensure they don’t get too carried away at this year’s office Christmas party and offer pay rises to staff that in the cold light of day they may regret, according to legal experts.

The warning from Glaisyers law firm follows a recent case whereby an employee claimed for constructive dismissal as the pay rise he was offered at the end of a company’s annual dinner-dance didn’t materialise.

Despite an Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) upholding an earlier decision that the conversation between the employee and his manager at the office Christmas dance did not amount to an enforceable promise to increase pay, employment solicitor Russell Brown believes bosses must still be on their guard.

“In this particular case, the EAT held that the original promise was not contractually enforceable, and was part of a conversation that took place within the context of a social event,” he said.

“There is also the fact that the individual did receive a pay rise of over £10,000, which though wasn’t the amount promised, did go someway towards softening the EAT’s view towards the case.”

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