Why a work Christmas party can be a hot potato

A Christmas party can be a great way to reward your team for the year’s achievements and to boost morale.

However, the combination of alcohol and lowered inhibitions that come with an escape from the work environment can quickly turn merry festivities into a hot potato for employers.

Every year, we see cases reaching the courts regarding the conduct of employees at work Christmas parties, often revolving around the question of whether and to what extent the employer is liable for the conduct of employees.

The most obvious areas of risk for employers are violence, sexual harassment and offensive comments made by employees.

The extent to which an employer could be held liable for any particular incident will depend upon the specific circumstances of the case, but the crucial point for employers is that there is a risk that they could be held liable for misconduct at the Christmas party.

This means it is important to set clear boundaries for employees and emphasising that the party is an extension of the workplace.

In particular, it is always a good idea to clear about the business’s attitude towards alcohol consumption at the party.

In the event that any incidents do occur, it is important to investigate them promptly and thoroughly to mitigate the chances of any claim against the business.

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