Should employers fear the office Christmas party?

Your Christmas Party is normally pretty lively and good fun, but employers need to consider various factors beforehand, so there are no problems (yawn – but bear with us here!).

Unfortunately, because of various pieces of legislation, employers need to have a policy in place setting out the standards of acceptable behaviour for their workers at the Christmas Party (or at last explain this clearly to staff beforehand).

This is because:

  • Employers can be held liable for harm (under health and safety laws) or harassment caused to or by their employees, or for negligent acts of their employees.
  • Employers have a responsibility for their staff’s actions, even outside normal working hours or outside of the normal working environment. Any social event organised by the employer is an ‘extension’ of the workplace – regardless of the place or time of the event.
  • You could fall foul of religious and possibly sexual discrimination laws. Since October 2010 the Equality Act continues to give protection from sexual harassment but now also gives protection to harassment on the basis of disability, age, gender reassignment, race/religion or belief and sexual orientation.
  • We also look at different types of misconduct inside and outside the workplace, there are some interesting cases!

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