Festive Fun – You Don’t Want a Grievance for Christmas!

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One gift you can definitely do without as an employer this Christmas is that of a Grievance. But it’s surprising how often they arise after a Christmas Party if you haven’t put in place some sensible precautions.

By now, your Christmas ‘Do’ is no doubt all organised and everyone is raring to go. But have you communicated your expectations for good behaviour? After all, you want your staff to have fun and let their hair down, but you don’t want them to let you, your business or themselves down! You need your company’s integrity and reputation to remain intact.

Communicate your Christmas Wish List

So how do you ensure that your staff behave in a fitting manner that you and they can be proud of? Quite simply, by clearly and respectfully setting out your expectations. A Christmas Wish List of how you intend the party should go if you will!

The best way to do that is to have up to date policies in place, such as one on Work-Related Social Events that would include Christmas parties, backed up with a Drug and Alcohol policy.

A week or so prior to the event, send a friendly email reminding your staff of everyone’s expected conduct. State clearly that it is a work function and therefore an extension of the workplace. Include a mention of the dangers of drinking alcohol to excess, and so on. This statement should allude to your policies, too, attaching them to the email or reminding them where to find them.

Your statement could include reminders that:

  • Drinking to excess where behaviour is compromised to the point of being loud and/or obnoxious will not be tolerated. Drink in moderation! Make sure soft drinks are available.
  • Be aware that humour is very individual – what’s funny for one person may cause offence to another.
  • If the party is mid-week, state that employees are still expected to attend work fully functioning the next day. Any absences may be dealt with as a disciplinary.

Your liability as an employer

As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your staff. According to the Equality Act 2010, you are liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by your employees during the course of employment, unless you can show that you took reasonable steps to prevent such acts.

Because a Christmas party is considered to be ‘in the course of employment’, by putting the above simple preventative measures in place beforehand you’re saving yourself, as well as your staff, a huge headache afterwards – both in terms of an alcohol-fuelled hangover, as well as a hangover from questionable behaviour that could lead to a Grievance … or worse!

If you’d like help to word your statement in a friendly yet firm tone of voice, or if you need help in drawing your company policies up, please get in touch. Call me on 07968 787182 or email me on rebecca.woolmington@hrcentral.co.uk


We’re here to help you and your employees have fun this Christmas … safely!

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