Employment Law: Organising a Christmas Party?

As the festive season is fast approaching, employers often find themselves facing many HR issues regarding holiday requests, Christmas parties, bonuses and issues surrounding different religions.

Now is the time to ensure that you are ready for the holiday season by ensuring you have clear guidelines to manage and avoid these issues – prevention is certainly better than cure when it comes to HR issues and Employment Law.

The biggest issue we come across is in relation to Office parties, with employers struggling to ensure that employees behave appropriately, or unsure how to deal with employees who turn up to work late or worse for wear the next morning.

It is important to note that in Employment Law, employers can be held liable for the actions of employees if it is deemed those actions were committed in the course of their employment (which includes business organised events), and therefore it is imperative to ensure that you have a policy in force setting out clear guidelines on expected behaviours. Such policy should also distinguish between social events which will be considered to be in the course of employment and those which wouldn’t. In relation to events which are covered by any such policy it should be stressed that obligations on employees continue on their journey home to ensure they are not involved in drink driving or any abusive behaviour following the party.  Party season policies should impose obligations on the employer as well as the employee, for example ensuring that a health and safety assessment is carried out at any potential venue and that any religious requirements are adhered to.

We strongly advise that the policy, or at least a memo, is circulated around all members of staff leading up to the holiday season to ensure that everyone involved is aware of what is expected of them (remember that any office party is an extension of the workplace). It is much easier for employers to deal with any grievance or disciplinary issues which arise as a result of any events if clear guidance has been set out.

Michael Lewin Solicitors are offering a fixed fee service this festive season. For £300 plus VAT we will ensure that your policy covers all the essential points, as well as provide you with the memo wording to circulate round your staff.

If you are interested, simply drop our Head of Employment (Ian Abel) an email, and he’ll sort it out for you – you can get Ian on ian.abel@michaellewin.co.uk

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