Christmas 2010

For many companies the arrangements will be well underway for festive celebrations. These events provide an excellent opportunity to congratulate staff for their achievements and to recognise employees' efforts during a difficult year for businesses.

Whilst the majority of events will go smoothly and everyone involved will have a good time, employers need to be aware of the potential pitfalls of the party season.

Employment legislation is there to protect employees from discrimination or unfair treatment. Therefore employers need to ensure that they protect themselves from claims relating to harassment or bullying.

Top tips for managing the festivities:

  • Make it clear that conduct at the event will be monitored and any seriously inappropriate behaviour will be dealt with via the disciplinary procedure. Senior managers should set a good example with their behaviour and keep an eye on things.
  • Keep in mind the diversity of your workforce to ensure that all staff feel welcome at the event. Remember employees with disabilities and their access needs.
  • Consider whether a daytime or evening event is most convenient to the majority of attendees.
  • In the case of a lunchtime event, be clear whether a return to work is expected and therefore, whether the consumption of alcohol is acceptable.
  • At events where alcohol is provided, make every effort to prevent drink driving by organising transport home.
  • Ensure that the content of any professional entertainment is appropriate and not offensive to the audience.
  • Avoid alcohol fuelled discussions with employees about pay and promotions that you may be held to.

It is important to leave staff in no doubt as to what is and is not acceptable behaviour. Most importantly, make sure you follow a fair disciplinary process with those who behave inappropriately.

By choosing an appropriate venue, entertainment, moderating alcohol consumption and taking into consideration the needs of the employer and employee, your event will be a big success.

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