You may have had your annual staff Christmas party this year. How was it? There are usually stories that staff like to share over the following days, and sometimes there’s work for the HR team to do as a result. Imagine having to deal with the fall out of a Christmas party where the Managing Director drunkenly punched an employee
Employment Essentials say it was decided that the company was not vicariously liable for the assault because the MD wasn’t acting in the course of employment. The High Court stated that if injuries are caused to an employee by another member of staff after a work party has ended, the employer will not be vicariously liable for those injuries because it is too far removed from the employment relationship.
Employment laws do apply at the staff party though. Your organisation may be liable for incidents of harassment or discrimination caused by over drinking.
You can of course take measures in advance to remind staff about appropriate behaviour, and this is likely to reduce the risk of issues escalating during and after the event. Reminding staff of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour at staff social events - as well as highlighting the likely consequences of such behaviour is recommended by ACAS. This could be a reminder email or letter to all staff, or even a mention in preceding team meetings. No one wants to dampen the spirit of a party before it starts though, so the knack is delivering the message in the right way.
ACAS say, “While it's hard to stop employees over-indulging, limiting the amount of alcohol at the party, providing non-alcoholic options and supplying enough food can all help minimise the risk of employees getting drunk.”
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