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1 Dec 2015

The office Christmas Party – Don’t give your boss a spray!

As the carol goes, tis the season to be jolly, however what we don’t recommend about office Christmas parties is having to look for a new job the next day! We’ve heard it all before don’t drink too much and leave before the fun starts.

As the carol goes, tis the season to be jolly, however what we don’t recommend about office Christmas parties is having to look for a new job the next day! We’ve heard it all before don’t drink too much and leave before the fun starts.

Most organisations have appropriate policies and training in place, and most reasonable people know what appropriate workplace behaviour is when in control of their faculties. Usually after about six sherbets, most people forget these important instructions. The golden rules of do not sexually harass any one and don’t tell your colleagues what you really think about them can get thrown out the window.

Whilst the truth syrup has a lot to answer for, the law offers no excuse for breaking workplace rules at a Christmas Party. In fact the Courts and work tribunals have many cases of office Christmas Party excess ending in dismissals and compensation claims. You should seek legal advice if you get into trouble.

The rules of behaviour inside company premises apply equally to company organised events held away from the company’s premises. All those office rules against bullying and inappropriate or sexual behaviour still apply.

The staff at McKenzie Ross got together and came up with twelve Office Christmas Party tips that may help you manage the silly season. Failing that, make sure your Management Liability premiums are paid and your sums insured are adequate and up to date!

  • Encourage employees to know their own limitations when it comes to alcohol consumption and ensure management lead by example. You are bound to say or do something you later regret. Your office colleagues will not think better of you for chatting up the new employee or starting a fight with a co-worker.
  • Stay away from Headbook and the Twittersphere! Those selfies and party shots from the Christmas party have not place on line. Those embarrassing pics and video can go viral!
  • No racist jokes, sexist comments, abuse or humiliation.
  • Serve plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks
  • Appoint a senior employee to stay sober to oversee the function, which may include taking appropriate action to address escalating behaviour such as sending some people home or even closing the bar.
  • Beware of what you think is friendly flirting might not be for your colleague. Sexual harassment rules apply at the party just as much as in the office. Review workplace policies on sexual harassment and alcohol and drug use and ensure that employees are trained in their content
  • Dress appropriately – this is still a company event.
  • Warn employees about the consequences of inappropriate behaviour. You can be sacked for silly things you do at an office party. Courts won’t accept the excuse that it was a party, Christmas or otherwise.
  • Never ask questions of fellow workers that are too personal. The rules of etiquette of the workplace still apply.
  • Advise employees that they should not drive if they intend to drink. Organise transport home for partygoers as Employers still have a duty of care at office functions.
  • Courts have ruled even after party functions are still technically “at work” and have led to employment issues.
  • Deal with any complaints promptly and properly post event.

As employers, it is important the above are addressed prior to pulling on the party hats. If not, the hangover may last longer than a couple of days!

From all the team at McKenzie Ross, we wish you a safe and festive Christmas season.

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