Employers put block on Christmas festivities

Almost
70 per cent of employers have abandoned financing Christmas parties as employee
misbehaviour increases the risk of litigation.

According
to a survey of 2000 UK employers by law firm Peninsula:


73 per cent of employers hold a Christmas party every year


But 69 per cent of employers will not be financing a company Christmas party of
any sort this year, as they ‘don’t want the hassle’


87 per cent of these have held parties in the past, but due to behavioural
issues arising from the events have decided not to hold them any more as they
worry about problems in the future


46 per cent complain that they cannot afford to host a party every Christmas


75 per cent of employers have, at some stage, had to take firm disciplinary
action following a staff Christmas party


58 per cent of bosses think that if the party is held off company premises they
are exempt from their responsibilities to employees.

Peter
Done, managing director of Peninsula, said: "While [Christmas Parties] are
extremely enjoyable for most, employers must be aware that the party venue is
basically an extension of the office and that they remain responsible for the
well-being, protection and behaviour of their employees.

"The
danger at occasions such as this is the potential for misconduct between
members of staff, encouraged by the influence of alcohol. Conduct regarding
discrimination for example must be strictly supervised by company bosses.
Should a problem arise and a member of staff wishes to complain, then a company
can be taken to an employment tribunal.

"To
avoid trouble, some employers are picky about is invited. As long as an
employer has sufficient reason (ideally backed up with evidence of poor
behaviour at a previous party), it can ban specific individuals from attending
if they believe it will benefit the overall smooth-running of the event.
Employers must be aware, however, that this may cause ill-feeling in the office
and is a decision that must be carefully considered – again bearing in mind the
issue of discrimination.

"It
is advisable for the employers/organisers of the event to remain relatively
free from intoxication," he added.

Done’s
recommendations:


Consider providing transportation home to prevent drink driving


Send a memo around the company office reminding all employees of what is
expected of them at the forthcoming party. This is a chance to remind all
employees of the dangers of excessive drinking and the dangers of mixing
alcohol and medication, etc


Choose the venue carefully.


Bosses should supervise alcohol provision and set out some guidelines for
dealing with over-intoxicated individuals.


The company should liase with bar staff before the event and discuss ideas
regarding the smooth-running of the party.

By Quentin Reade

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