Christmas is approaching and for every employer the same old question raises its ugly head; when is the Christmas party? Inevitably once that question is answered hundreds more will follow; what is the budget? should we charge? who will attend? what can we do instead?
It should be recognised that whilst Christmas parties may be seen by most as a “right” (I will leave you to decide whether express or implied) a free booze-up is not the only way to demonstrate festive cheer and gratitude for employees efforts that year.
So what is the answer I hear you cry? Well why not be different? Consider whether the budget could be used to hold an employee raffle every Friday on the run up to Christmas with chances of winning gift vouchers; money always comes in handy at this time of year. Not enough? Give some time back to the community; teams could take an afternoon off to reach out to those more in need. Contact your local charities such as domestic abuse shelters or fostering homes and create a Grotto for their own Christmas party. Why not try an alternative alcohol free activity which would appeal to all ages, genders and roles within the business. After all Christmas is a Christian celebration and so be mindful that not everyone may want to participate.
If you are holding a more “traditional” Christmas party then our top tip would to be ensure everyone’s expectations are set early and most importantly….keep a tight hold on the tab behind the bar! (According to ACAS drink-fuelled behaviour is the root cause of many tribunal claims). Try not to start things off too early and consider combining drinks with plenty of food and other activities to prevent the endless queue at the bar. Why not have a 3 course meal, a Christmas Quiz or other form of entertainment such as a band, magician or charity auction. And most importantly, insofar as it is possible, endeavour to have representation at the party from all areas of the business. It will only leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the more junior employees if they do not see senior members joining in; even if it is just for the first few hours. More often than not presence will demonstrate gratitude and appreciation more than money.
Whichever decision you make please remember a Christmas Party is a work-related activity and comes wrapped up with all the same employment law issues you could be faced with on any other ordinary day. Employees may want to let their hair down but it is important they remember that company policies don’t disappear into thin air when the clock strikes five. Whilst we’re not suggesting you re-issue a copy of the company policy upon arrival to the party, gentle reminders on the lead up to the event are recommended. The last thing anyone wants to face the-morning-after-the-night-before is any potential claims for harassment, discrimination or alcohol-fuelled assault. And finally, you may wish to consider how your employees will be heading home after the event. Smaller companies could consider contributing towards taxi fares, or if you have the budget left over liaise with a local taxi company and subsidise a discounted fare for your employees.
We at the DWF Employment team wish you all a happy and safe festive season.