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Christmas Parties – Covid Style

 

The headache or joy of a much awaited Christmas party…

Christmas parties for many were another casualty to the pandemic: could this mean the expectations this year are bigger than previous years?

Before the planning and organising commences, it might be worth considering the following key issues:

 

Be respectable

Are all employees actually keen to attend? Although some employees are looking forward to dueting on the dance floor with their colleagues, showcasing some questionable moves, there may be a proportion of employees who do not wish to attend: it’s important to respect everyone’s decision. After all, attendance is optional and a polite decline should be graciously accepted.

COVID is by no means over: the thought of attending a big event where social distancing is not possible or adhered to may not be an inviting offer for some. Perhaps it’s worth considering a smaller exclusive venue to avoid interaction with the wider public to maintain safety measures?

It might also be that your employees simply don’t fancy a big, glamorous work party and would prefer something relatively low key; to ensure all preferences are considered you could create a suggestion box for party and venue ideas and go with the majority.  

 

The importance of timing

The nearer to Christmas the better, right?

Not necessarily…

It’s likely your employees will be seeing their loved ones over Christmas and may want to keep interacting with large groups of people to a minimum during the 10 days prior to reduce the risk of contracting COVID.

 

Do employees have a responsibility to behave?

Yes!

Whilst we don’t want to be perceived as scrooge, it is important that you ensure all employees are aware that any work related party or event is an extension of the workplace. Employees have a responsibility not to bring the company into disrepute by inappropriate behaviour. Have a good time - but also keep it professional.

 

One prosecco, two prosecco, three prosecco more (a disciplinary…)

The work Christmas party may be a night to remember, but not always for the right reasons… Inappropriate behaviour could result in employees waking up with more than just a headache: they could also be faced with a disciplinary, a claim of sexual harassment, or even losing their job. The implications can be severe.

The Equality Act 2010 makes employers liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees during the course of their employment unless they can show they took reasonable steps to prevent such acts.

Establishing ‘who is to blame’ might prove very difficult if alcohol was involved, as this will likely result in blurred memories. Evidence may be unclear, and if this is the case, the safest way to treat all parties involved is equally.

 

How can the employer prevent trouble at the Christmas Party?

  • Send out a statement prior to the event outlining expectations of your employees and the dangers associated with excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Implement a company policy on workplace social events explaining that organised parties fall within the remit of ‘course of employment.’ HR: 4UK can provide this for you!
  • Remind staff to be wary of the latest trends that are circulating – such as Rohypnol being used in needle spiking within the UK (date rape drug).
  • Reflect on previous Christmas parties and consider if any Christmas party is better than no Christmas party at all.

 

Whilst the objective behind any Christmas party is to have fun and help create a sense of camaraderie, it is worth being mindful about the possible negative implications that can arise. This article is intended to raise awareness, not fear, of the potential key issues. To speak to an expert advisor regarding any further questions, please email or call 01455 444222.