I know it's the season for jollity and japes at the office party and I don’t want to get all ‘bah, humbug’ on you, but as an employer you should be aware of your responsibilities to avoid a serious hangover come the New Year. 
Any wrongdoing by an employee must take place during the course of their employment, but seasonal celebrations, even if held outside normal working hours and away from the workplace, can mean an employer is liable. They would have to show they took reasonable steps to prevent any unlawful acts. 
 
Here’s a list of 6 simple do's and don’ts: 
 
1. Give the staff some ground rules so they know what is acceptable. A light email message reminding them that the usual workplace rules apply with regard to harassment, etc., should do the trick. 
 
2. Consider the needs of your employees. Is childcare a problem for some? Is the venue suitable for any disabled staff? Can people get to and from the venue easily and safely? 
 
3. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so you need to ensure all staff feel they are included. Be aware of any cultural or religious food requirements, for example. 
 
4. Think about your drinks policy. Non-alcoholic drinks should always be available. If you are having a free bar, you may want to limit the number of drinks an individual can have or have a no-spirits policy. 
 
5. Beware the perils of social media! Not everyone is going to appreciate having their revelling displayed on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, including senior staff, so remind people of the company’s social media policy. 
 
6. Think about the following day. If it's the last day before breaking up for the holidays or a weekend, then there is no problem. However, if you are expecting staff to be working the next day, you may need to consider how lenient you are going to be with regard to lateness or even absenteeism. 
If you would like to discuss any aspect of your company’s relationship with your workforce, give us a call in confidence on 0330 088 4352. 
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