With the Christmas work party season now upon us, it’s important that you think about how best to manage any work-related seasonal gatherings, and any fallout from the festivities. What should you do?
You should see any work-related seasonal gatherings as an extension of the workplace, meaning not only should you consider the health and safety implications but you should also be aware that you could be vicariously liable for the actions of your employees in respect of unlawful discrimination/harassment or personal injury. Therefore, you might want to consider taking the following actions:
conducting a risk assessment of the venue and arrangements, including the provision of alcohol, and implementing appropriate measures to reduce risk
not making the gathering compulsory
being as inclusive as possible – for example, ensuring catering arrangements meet all religious, cultural and dietary requirements
considering whether to provide any leeway on start times or hours of work, or whether to allow employees to work from home, on the day after the event
considering whether to put transport arrangements in place so that employees can get home safely, or at least reminding employees to ensure they’ve considered their travel arrangements in advance
warning staff about expected levels of behaviour
requiring employees not to post photos of the event to their social media pages, particularly if they contain images of other members of staff
appointing one or more managers to watch out for inappropriate behaviour at the event, such as sexual harassment
subsequently taking appropriate disciplinary action under the terms of your disciplinary procedure against those who engage in misconduct
refraining from discussing confidential or sensitive matters with employees at the event, such as matters relating to pay, promotion, redundancy, etc.