Christmas Party Boundaries & Expectations

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Christmas Party Boundaries & Expectations

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Whatever your views, Christmas is in sight; the temperature is dropping and we’re starting to get into the festive spirit.

Often when spreading festive cheer and seasonal greetings there is bound to be alcohol and Christmas parties involved.

As HR Professionals, we all enjoy the festivities, but it is important to set boundaries in the workplace and at work-related activities. It would be sensible to remind your staff about what is expected of them.

We would all hope and expect employees to conduct themselves responsibly, however from an HR perspective, things can go wrong.

What practical things can you do?

  • Remind employees to drink alcohol in moderation. If you are providing free alcoholic drinks, limit these to one drink per employee. Any drinks they wish to consume after that are at their own cost, this will hopefully discourage people from drinking excessively if they must purchase it themselves. Unacceptable and inappropriate behaviour including physical violence, verbal assault, sexual harassment, excessive drunkenness and taking illegal drugs may result in disciplinary action. Even though it is a social event, employees are still representing the company and, as their employer, you may be vicariously liable for their actions. Their actions may bring the company’s name into disrepute. Any inappropriate conduct may be dealt with under the company’s disciplinary policy.
  • Ensure employees are not drinking and driving and have made appropriate arrangements to get home safely. Consider whether you will contribute towards their transport home.
  • If your event is midweek, remind employees that they will be required to attend work the next day and a hangover is not an acceptable reason to be absent, unless, of course, they have booked annual leave in advance. If employees call in sick, you may require them to obtain a Fit Note from their GP at their own cost or this may be dealt with under the company’s disciplinary policy.
  • Ideally, managers should stay and ‘supervise’ staff rather than leave early, in case things start to get out of control. If employees experience any problems during the event, they should have a designated manager to go to.
  • Once you’ve laid down the basic rules, don’t forget to wish everyone a fun, safe and trouble-free evening!
  • Taking the time to remind employees of what your standards and expectations are is a ‘quick-win’ and should save you in the long run from having to deal with any potential disciplinary or grievance matters after the event.

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