12th December 2017
Misconduct at the Works Christmas Do
Christmas is once again almost upon us, and this means the “works Christmas do” will probably be taking place within your Company. For many employers, this is a time to fear – misconduct ranging from general banter gone wrong to allegations of serious sexual assault and rape have been experienced in the past, so it is important that the employer takes a firm line and prepares fully in advance of these events.
With employees in high spirits at such events, it is not uncommon for there to be allegations of banter taking place which has been misconstrued, arguments or indeed physical violence and fighting. This is a rather common occurrence on which we are often asked to advise.
Nowadays, there is an added risk as a result of the rise of social networking websites. The latest warning is for businesses to be aware of the risks of allowing employees to take photographs at these events.
A “merry” employee with a mobile phone may now, in many cases, quickly upload a photograph they have taken onto the internet, for potentially millions of people to see. Often, if an employee has consumed alcohol, their judgment will be somewhat impaired, and they will not think about the consequences of putting the photos in the public domain.
This can have serious consequences on a number of fronts, depending on the nature of the images that are taken. Fellow employees may well object to them, which could lead to allegations of a breach of privacy or even defamation. Much ill-feeling within the business generally may also be one ramification of such actions.
Employers, therefore, need to take care when providing festive celebrations for their staff and think particularly carefully about free bar facilities which often are the trigger for many of the problems. All manner of other issues can result from the Christmas party celebrations. Often at such events, equal opportunities policies are breached or things go on which lead to the breach of those types of policies and harassment of staff in the future. Here are a few rules that should be followed to hopefully prevent such misbehaviour:
- Prepare a policy and place it on the intranet or notice boards or circulate by email to make employees aware of the standards of behaviour expected of them, and the fact that disciplinary action may be taken if the rules are breached;
- Consider providing alternative transport for attendees, especially for those who are intending on making the most of the bar facility!
- Consider whether you will be providing a free bar. If employees have to pay they may well limit the amount they consume;
- Consider the age of your employees – do not allow the 16 year old trainee to kick back tequila slammers all night;
- Consider the menu that you will offer – religious beliefs impact on the menu choice and drinks available;
- If you are holding a party in the office, DO NOT make the photocopier accessible!
We hope you enjoy your Christmas party, and please contact us if you need help with any aspect of Employment Law for your business.