That time of year has crept upon us…. Yes, Christmas party season! Did you know that you can be held liable for the actions of your employees as an employer at work related events?
What should you consider to demonstrate you have taken all reasonable steps to avoid any problems?
Top tip #1
Remind staff that the event is an extension of the workplace – usual rules apply with regards to their behaviour and that if they are due to work the day after, they are expected to turn up as usual.
Top tip #2
Highlight relevant policies such as bullying and harassment, social media (do you permit them to post pictures?), and codes of conduct. Ensure they are aware that allegations of poor behaviour could be subject to disciplinary action.
Top tip #3
Make sure you have invited everyone, including those who are on any type of leave e.g., maternity, paternity, adoption, shared parental leave and even those who are sick. Sometimes just because they can’t work does not mean they can’t go out – it will depend why they are off sick.
Top tip #4
Remind staff not to drink and drive and confirm that any drug use is strictly forbidden. Ensure that employees get home safely if they get a bit tipsy, the duty of care still exists!
Top tip #5
Don’t force employees to feel like they have to attend. Slightly different if you are holding it within their usual working hours but if it is being held in their personal time respect that they may not wish to attend.
Top tip 6#
If something does happen at the Christmas party, seek advice and consider what action to take. In the tribunal case Gimson v Display By Design Ltd, Mr Gimson was dismissed after walking home with a group of colleagues after the Christmas party. He had a disagreement with one colleague and punched another colleague in the face. He was dismissed for Gross Misconduct and claimed unfair dismissal because it happened outside the course of employment. The tribunal held that it was a fair dismissal, and it was reasonable for the employer to conclude the incident was within the course of his employment as the assault would not have occurred had the employee not gone to the Christmas party. The tribunal found that the employer had reasonably concluded that the events were sufficiently closely connected to work to have an impact on the employment relationship.
Would you like a note of reminders to send round to staff about workplace events? Reply to this email with ‘yes please’ and I will send you some wording that you can adapt.