time, mistletoe and wine … may be fine when out with your friends but can
create more than just a hangover for employers. As the festive season takes
hold, we set out below the top ten tips for employers to avoid a new year full
of grievance and disciplinary procedures.
Santa is an office tradition which is becoming increasingly popular. Many offices now have a Secret Santa where
staff buy their colleagues small gifts anonymously. Whilst it might be tempting to buy someone novelty
chocolate items or skimpy lingerie, this is clearly not appropriate at
work. So, before Santa distributes his
presents, employees should be told the rules of the game. No gifts of a sexual, obscene or offensive
nature should be allowed.
to invite? Many employers host some form
of Christmas party as a way of rewarding staff and boosting morale. If you intend to invite husbands and wives to
the event, make sure you also invite same-sex partners to avoid claims of
sexual orientation discrimination.
forget that as an employer you will be responsible for the actions of your
staff, even at an event away from the office.
It is a good idea to have a senior person ‘in charge’ for the evening to
ensure that things don’t get out of hand.
staff that they remain bound by workplace policies (e.g. Anti-Harassment and Bullying, Disciplinary, Equal Opportunities) whilst at a work Christmas party. Many employers send their staff a short email
at the start of the festive season setting out the boundaries of acceptable
behaviour and reminding them about the consequences of inappropriate behaviour.
planning a work event, think about how much alcohol should be available as most
incidents occur when the drink starts flowing and inhibitions fall away. You should also ensure there is a ready
supply of non-alcoholic drinks for those who do not drink alcohol for religious
or personal reasons. Thought should be given to how your staff are going to get home. If the event ends very late, you may consider
laying on transport.
talk shop! As the warm glow of the
mulled wine kicks in you may be tempted to promise your favoured employees
promotion or salary increases. Don’t do
it. You may find such promises come back
to bite you at pay review time.
Cameron may be regretting the ‘selfie’ he took this week at Nelson Mandela’s
memorial service. The consequences of
office party ‘selfies’ or indeed any other compromising pictures making their way onto social media could be disastrous
for your business. Make sure that you
have a social media policy in place and remind your staff that this applies to
the office party too.
an issue does arise on the night, it is usually best to send employees home and
deal with it the next day when the effect of any alcohol has worn off. You should deal with any inappropriate
behaviour under the disciplinary or grievance procedures in the usual way. In both cases, this will start with an
investigation. You may need to suspend
the employee whilst this happens.
next day. Be clear before the event
whether you are going to allow staff to come in late the next day. If not, remind them that if they are not at
work the next day, their absence will be treated as unauthorised absence under
the disciplinary procedure.