Christmas Party Bloopers – your Q & As
In the run up to Christmas, office Christmas parties will be getting underway. They are a time to let your hair down, have a merry drink and possibly have a good old boogie on the dance floor. However, we all know that this is the rose tinted specs. view of the office party and often it is far more eventful.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Q: Do I have to invite my agency staff to the Christmas party?
A: The Agency Worker Regulations 2010 state that agency workers are entitled to benefit from your collective facilities and amenities from day 1. Is a Christmas party included within this definition? The Regulations are vague and so as usual, there is no certain answer. Although opinion on this is mixed, it is slightly more in favour of not having to invite agency workers. However, to be safe rather than sorry and to maintain or boost morale, you may wish to invite all of your staff.
Q: We are providing our staff with an open bar but I am concerned that some of them may drive home after drinking, what should I do?
A: If you provide your staff with drinks and they drive home and are involved in an accident, you could be liable. Therefore, to avoid this, you may consider organising transport home from the venue for your staff or ensuring as far as possible that those who drink do not drive home. You could ask your staff to plan their journey home in advance getting them to share taxis or lifts. It would be advisable to let all staff know beforehand that if they do drink, they should not be driving home. You cannot be on watch all the time but you should be able to show if needed that you have minimised the risk.
Q: One of the managers had too much to drink and promised an employee a promotion. We cannot offer this and so what do we do now?
A: Case law suggests that in these circumstances, such a promise would not be contractually enforceable. However, a tribunal could easily decide that it could. If this happens in your business and you become aware, it is advisable to sit down with the employee to whom the promise was made and explain why he cannot be guaranteed a promotion. You should also consider how to deal with the manager who made the promise which could include disciplinary action depending upon the circumstances.
Q: A complaint was made against 3 male members of staff in connection with the harassment of a female colleague who left the party in tears. What should we do?
A: The incident happened in working time, albeit at a Christmas party. The Christmas party is an extension of working time, even if it is held offsite and outside working hours, and you are therefore likely to remain liable for acts of harassment carried out by their employees. You should deal with the complaints under your disciplinary policy as usual.