Set out the ground-rules: It might be the season of goodwill – but things spill over. You should clarify in advance what is ‘acceptable behaviour’ – many office parties end up with staff fighting and verbal harassment. An office part is technically a work-related activity and normal disciplinary procedures still apply.
Watch the Highland flings: One-off relationships flourish after a few drinks over the festive season. A brief encounter under the mistletoe can cause embarrassment at work the day after, or worse still, leave you with allegations of sexual harassment.
Watch out for gifts that hurt: Think carefully about what kind of ‘jokey’ presents you are buying or giving out to colleagues. Some tongue-in-cheek presents – such as hair dye or party wigs -might prompt claims of harassment or discrimination.
Remember – it’s a work do! Look at what might happen. Assess the risk beforehand. Switch off the photo-copier – to stop the traditional bottom-exposurers – and make sure the venue is safe and has no potential hazards. If someone falls and injured after having too much to drink, they might have a case against the company.
Bring along partners: Encourage wives and husbands to come along but don’t forget same-sex partners too. This avoids potential claims over excluding anyone on the ground of gender orientation. Don’t ask anyone to ‘sit on Santa’s knee’ either.
Be careful with the free booze: Providing gratis alcohol is a danger area. You could be responsible for any accidents caused by someone over-indulging and getting hurt – or becoming ill. The same thing applies to any food you set out – make sure you have a reputable supplier bringing the nibbles.
Take away the car keys: Employers are responsible for their employees’ actions in the work environment and after consuming the alcohol provided. Encourage everyone who is drinking to take a taxi home – or better still organise a minibus. Drinking and driving is verboten.
Keep it all friendly: Encouraged some folks to remain sober and act as ‘stewards’ to head off any nasty office fall-outs. Don’t tell the boss he’s like Santa because he’s fat, jolly and only works one day a year.
Most importantly – Have fun and a trouble-free festive holiday!