The office Christmas party is one of the highlights of the working year and something many people look forward to. For employers, the occasion provides an opportunity to show their employees how much their contribution over the year has meant. As well as planning the festivities, however, it is important that SME owners understand and fully comply with the employment law rules and regulations governing office Christmas parties.
Below are some common Christmas activities that can lead to serious employment law claims.
Encouraging people to kiss under the mistletoe may be appropriate in a private setting but such behaviour at a Christmas party can lead to sexual harassment claims. As an employer, you have a duty to keep your employees safe and therefore it is unwise to create a situation that could encourage unwanted conduct.
Health and safety
As an employer, you must consider the health and safety aspects of the venue in which your office Christmas party takes place. Before the party begins conduct a risk assessment that includes checking where the fire exits are, whether the first aid kit is well stocked, and ensuring there are no hidden dangers that could result in a slip, trip, or fall. When deciding whether something presents a risk to health and safety remember that alcohol can severely inhibit a person’s ability to accurately assess risk.
If you are serving alcohol ensure you provide plenty of food and water. It is also a good idea to organise safe transport back to a place where employees can get the tube or a taxi home if you are holding your office Christmas party in a remote location.
Not everyone on your team necessarily celebrates Christmas. To avoid a discrimination claim it is important to ensure that all employees feel included and can attend the Christmas party without feeling discriminated against. Furthermore, not everyone drinks alcohol so make sure you have a selection of non-alcoholic beverages on offer. It is also wise to quickly check if anyone on your team has any food allergies or cannot eat a certain type of food for cultural or religious purposes.
Complying with employment law when throwing a Christmas party does not mean taking all the fun out of the occasion. In reality, employees who feel safe, included, and know that their employer cares enough to consider their feelings will have a much better time.
Let the celebrations begin!
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If you have any questions regarding office Christmas parties and Employment Law do not hesitate to contact LawBite expert employment and commercial lawyers to clear out your doubts.
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