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Is your business safe from the risks of Christmas indulgence?

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It’s here already! The office Christmas party and names have gone in the hat for the secret Santa, but amidst the fun the more relaxed atmosphere at this time of year can lead to embarrassment at best - and at worst, damage to the company’s reputation and business.

Bosses could be in for a shaky start to the New Year if an employee posts a picture of a colleague or make a discriminatory comment online, warns local law firm Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.

The risk of employees causing trouble after one too many mulled wines is no longer the chief concern for employers (although that risk should not be ignored). Rather, it is the frighteningly easy way employees can create negative publicity for their business on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

No employer wants to put a damper on the festivities. However, timely advice given in the best interests of the business can never go amiss – especially if it might safeguard employees’ jobs.

Here are some tips from Susan Mayall, Head of Employment at Pearson Solicitors, on what you can do.

•             Before the parties start, remind staff that they represent the company/firm. Their behaviour on and off-line can affect the business’ reputation, standing in the community – and sales. In some cases, it might be appropriate to send out an email beforehand for example to set out the dress and behaviour rules and to suggest cars are left at home.

•             Check your social media policy is in place – and remind staff that it is never a good idea to post messages or photos on social media platforms after a drink.

•             If you are organizing the party, ensure there is food available from the outset and that it respects your staffs’ religious requirements. Provide lots of soft drinks too. If you see anyone worse for wear, have a discreet word and offer them a taxi home.

•             If offence is given at the party, deal with it quickly if possible. Ensure apologies as appropriate are forthcoming. If the offence given highlights deeper issues, address them during working hours and not at the party.

The excesses of the festive season may be a problem where an employee makes an offensive comment online or posts an inappropriate photograph from the Christmas party on Facebook” said Susan.

“In recent years there has been a massive growth in the popularity of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube. Social media can benefit businesses in terms of marketing and networking, but it also poses a number of threats which businesses must be aware of ahead of the Christmas party,” she warned.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Susan Mayall


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