During the Festive season, most businesses recognise that festive parties or other social gatherings are an excellent opportunity to build rapport with colleagues and let off some steam after a stressful year at work. Employees must remember that they are still responsible for conducting themselves in a way which promotes a positive company reputation, and also that drunkenness should not be seen as an excuse for misconduct.
It is important to be mindful of this when arranging work related events. Employers still remain liable for acts of unlawful discrimination committed by employees during these types of events if appropriate steps have not taken to prevent this. This is regardless of whether the incident occurs during the champagne reception or the after party at the end of the evening.
Implementing Clear Policies
If employers have a clear policy, providing clear guidelines on the standard of behaviour expected at work-related events, and what possible implications (up to and including dismissal) could result from inappropriate behaviour.
Employees should also be reminded of this policy, prior to any work-related social events.
Larger organisations may also benefit from appointing individuals to supervise social events so that staff can come to them to raise any concerns. They should be provided with guidelines on dealing with drunk or disorderly employees and they should be advised to remain sober during the event.
While your employees will relish the thought, this also encourages excessive drinking so it can be advisable to limit free alcohol and ensure that some low alcohol, or alcohol free alternatives are also available.
As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees and so must consider how they get home after any work-related events. It may also be beneficial to consider hiring taxis/coaches for the end of the night. Employers may also provide telephone numbers for local taxi firms, or public transport times well in advance.
The morning after the night before
If you do find yourself receiving calls from employees the following morning, advising that they are feeling unwell, it is important not to jump to conclusions and reserve judgement until return to wok meetings have been conducted in the normal way.
When referring to the case of Bhara vs Ikea Ltd, two employees were dismissed from their roles, following a fight which occurred after the Christmas party, despite both parties maintaining this was nothing more than a playful wrestling match, so it is well worth reminding employees that their actions have consequences.
However, it is equally important for all staff to be given an opportunity to enjoy themselves and dance the night away so, making sure the required preventative measures are taken will ensure that an enjoyable night is had by all!
If we can help you with this or any other HR issue, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our HR Team at HR Services Scotland Ltd on 0800 652 2610.