THE OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY
With the Christmas party approaching, there’s an excellent opportunity to bond and reward staff. It’s a chance to celebrate success and for managers to be more visible and approachable, but it is important to consider the possible pitfalls. Whilst common sense must prevail, it is important to understand that any Christmas party organised for work colleagues whether during or after office hours, on or off the premises, is technically a work activity and therefore normal disciplinary procedures will apply if behaviour gets out of hand.
Bearing all this in mind it may be worthwhile to consider issuing guidelines to make sure that everyone knows what is unacceptable. Having said this, two thirds of employers don’t do this.
Health and Safety
The TUC and the RoSPA have joined forces to produce an ‘Office Party Planner’ Christmas Safety Guide http://www.worksmart.org.uk/officeparty/officepartyplanner.pdf
A Christmas party can be one of the most tax efficient ways of rewarding staff with £150 tax allowance per head and no NI contributions. Make sure you consider the liability if you exceed this or provide some other form of recognition.
Sexual Harassment / Discrimination
Lowered inhibitions are likely with alcohol consumption. Long term disagreements and gripes can come to the fore. Make sure staff are aware or the repercussions of fighting at the Christmas do.
Finally think about the effect on work. If possible plan your party for a day when people are not expected at work the following day. If people are expected to attend work the following day be prepared for a lower output and be consistent in how you handle those who turn up for work the worse the wear for drink, and consider if in doing so they are putting themselves or others at risk.
It’s all about having a good time while ensuring you have limited your liability as an employer, so with good planning and careful consideration, we wish you a very happy festive season.
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