Put policies in place to avert Christmas party disasters

Has the tinsel got you twitching yet? Mince pies getting you in a mess? The first mention of mistletoe and wine at this time of year always prompts a mad dash by HR departments to consult their employee handbook and ensure they’re prepared to stave off any disasters at the Christmas bash.


The guide recently released by conciliation service Acas – offering top tips on how to manage your Christmas party without ending up at an employment tribunal – has compounded this fear, and many employers are running scared.


Baubles passed their health and safety test? Check. DJ got enough Val Doonican tracks to play alongside the latest Scissor Sisters hit? Check. No-one allowed to have any fun whatsoever? Check.


Employment legislation is there to protect employees from discrimination or unfair treatment. But that doesn’t mean every law will be broken as soon as the first festive cork is popped. Yet some employers have deemed the risk just too terrifying, and many organisations have decided to call the Christmas party off. Wise move? Or political correctness gone mad?


Whichever end of the ‘work hard, play hard’ spectrum you stand, HR is never going to win this one. Ban the festivities, and you will look like the Grinch who stole Christmas. Generously offer your staff free booze and the chance to let their hair down, and you could be courting trouble.


With too much alcohol often being the reason for parties turning sour, our Trade Secrets feature looks at how to deal with drinking at work, and our Legal Q&A tackles alcohol misuse.


Legal experts advise you to have a clear conduct policy, and leave staff in no doubt as to what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Most importantly, make sure you punish those who transgress.


With those measures in place, you may be able to shake off your Scrooge cloak and actually enjoy the party yourselves.





 

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