The office Christmas party season is rapidly approaching which means lots of socialising, spirits and unwanted surprises; often leading to sleepless nights for employers over the festive period.
The annual Christmas bash for employees has long been a time for letting your hair down and enjoying the festivities. However, sometimes spirits get high and people get carried away, often resulting in a disciplinary action for inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas party long after the hangover subsides.
Employment law specialists, Law At Work (LAW), have been offering advice on how employers can avoid party mishaps by making them aware of their legal responsibilities over the festive period. This includes ensuring all staff are reminded of their equalities training and ensuring that if the employer decides to offer alcohol, that there is also plenty of non-alcoholic beverages available too to ensure there is no over-indulgence. This year also marks a lowered drink drive alcohol tolerance level from 80mg to 50mg, so workers must be extra vigilant to ensure that they are not over the limit the morning after, which could result in them losing their licence and possibly their jobs too.
Donald MacKinnon, director of legal services at LAW, explains: “This year, we are also reminding employers to place additional awareness on ensuring that female drivers stay below the alcohol limit after a survey revealed that driving convictions for female motorists have doubled over the past 15 years”. Alcohol is normally the biggest culprit for causing havoc at Christmas parties. People often don’t realise just how much they have had to drink, so don’t see getting behind the wheel to drive home as a huge issue. The classic ‘I’ve just had a couple’ phrase can lead to all sorts of problems.
“Employers can help by hosting the Christmas party in a central location; so if employees want to indulge in a well deserved Christmas tipple, there are still plenty of options for a safe journey home”. Donald continues: “After a few festive drinks, Christmas parties often give people the courage to reveal their ‘colleague crush’ to fellow co-workers or maybe even the person themselves. Yet, alcohol fuelled confessions can quickly escalate and sometimes lead to inappropriate, and unwanted, attention. Trying to persuade your crush for a cheeky Christmas peck underneath the mistletoe can turn into headaches for employers over the festive period, as claims for harassment start to rear their ugly head”.
Christmas truth serum…
“Alcohol can also act as a ‘truth serum’ and cause employees, or employers for that matter, to over-share after they’ve had a drink. Colleagues often begin discussing other members of staff, whilst others use it as an opportunity for telling their boss what they really think about them! Donald concludes: “The effects of alcohol can really impact on the enjoyment of Christmas parties, and the subsequent working day. To ensure employees still have a cracking time, employers must ensure everyone is aware of their legal responsibilities in order to avoid New Year headaches”.