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HoHoHo or NoNoNo, Employers Beware it's Christmas Party Time

View profile for Susan Mayall
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It’s here already! This time of year businesses of all sizes are gearing up for the annual Christmas party, but without appearing to be a bah humbug employment solicitors are advising business owners to beware and make sure they’re not facing 2020 with grievances, claims and heading for the tribunal courts in the New Year.

Employers can be held vicariously liable for an employees’ conduct during the party as it may be deemed to have taken place within the course of employment.

Most employees will also be using social media and firms need to make sure social media policies are in place.  Reputational damage and potential data protection breaches may arise if an employee posts a picture of a colleague or make a discriminatory comment online, warns Susan Mayall, Head of Employment at local law firm Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers.

Most parties and events present no issues, but when things go wrong it can be costly, never mind the bad feeling in the workplace, from an employer’s point of view problems at a social event can affect their bottom line if they end up in court,” she said.

“There are a wide a variety of employment issues around socialising and the workplace; discrimination, sexual harassment, absenteeism after the event all come into play, no employer wants to put a dampener on the festivities but timely advice given in the best interests of the business can never go amiss – especially if it might safeguard employees’ jobs in the long run,” she added.

Employment Law Advice for festive fun:

  • Remind staff that they represent the company and their behaviour on the night and off-line can affect the business’ reputation and standing in the community. Maybe send out an email beforehand setting out the dress and behaviour.
  • 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.
  • Don’t discriminate and make sure the event is all inclusive, don’t forget to include those on maternity, paternity, sick leave and make sure there is disabled access as necessary.
  • If offence is given at the party, deal with it quickly if possible. If the offence given highlights deeper issues, address them during working hours and not at the party.
  • Sexual harassment claims can follow works parties, in one case a claim was made as an employee was harassed on the way home and a successful claim was made as it was viewed as a continuation of harassment at the party.

“From a positive point of view the Christmas party can be a chance for teams to come together and celebrate the success of the year, forge great working relationships and look forward to the year ahead, all it takes is a bit of forward thinking from business owners and managers, “ added Susan.

 

For advice on Employment Law ahead of your works event feel free to call for a chat with Susan Mayall.

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 LLP 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.