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How to avoid adverse consequences of your office Christmas Party

11th December, 2014

It’s that time of year again and Christmas is well and truly on its way. The shops are busy at all hours, decorations are starting to emerge and the Christmas lights are brightening up our streets.

The office Christmas party is a long standing tradition which many employers and employees alike are pleased to see return after many businesses were forced to cancel their festive celebrations during the recent recession.

Christmas parties can certainly provide both benefits and drawbacks for employers. Traditionally, the Christmas party has been seen as a deserved reward for a year’s hard work. To take this away could leave employees feeling demoralised and undervalued.

Giving employees the chance to relax and celebrate can help to foster good working relationships and improve teamwork. Arguably, the annual get-together is one of the best ways of reaffirming that employees are working together towards a common goal.

Alas, there are also many reasons why an employer may decide to remove the Christmas party from the calendar, aside from the obvious cost of holding a gathering.

One potential downside is the tendency for incidents and arguments to occur at Christmas parties, often fuelled by the catalyst of alcohol. Not only can this lead to the destruction of employee relations, it can also result in claims for vicarious liability being made against the employer.

It is evident that there are various factors to be weighed up by employers in deciding whether to hold an event. For those who decide they are willing to take the gamble, there are ways to help in avoiding the risks. For instance, staff should be briefed prior to any festivities getting underway and reminded of their responsibilities and the standards of behaviour expected of them. In particular, it is worth reminding them if company policies apply to conduct outside the workplace.

It would, of course, be preferable for everybody to have the opportunity to celebrate, but it is understandable that it may not always be appropriate in this day and age. In deciding whether to stick with tradition or not, it is important for employers to consider the consequences. One important aspect of this will be ensuring equality for employees. Bear in mind that not everybody celebrates Christmas, and discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief is unlawful.

For further information and advice on best practice in holding a Christmas party, please contact Helen Watson on 01244 405565 or send an email to [email protected]

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