The office Christmas party: What to do if things go wrong

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From the days when the office Christmas party used to be a little more sedate

As Christmas party season gets into full swing, businesses are being reminded that they should be aware of how to deal with any unexpected problems.

The message comes from advisory and consultancy service NatWest Mentor, which helps businesses deal with issues in areas including health and safety and employment law.

Both can potentially come into play during Christmas party season, when alcohol and high spirits can combine to cause unintended consequences.

Nick Soret, Head of Employment Law Consultancy Support at NatWest Mentor said: “Christmas parties are traditionally a chance for people to let their hair down and have fun. In the majority of cases, that’s exactly what happens. But employers need to remember that they have certain responsibilities.

Alcohol

“For example, care should be taken if staff are expected to return to work after a lunchtime event, as alcohol may affect an employee’s ability to complete certain tasks.

“In situations such as this, employers should plan ahead and clearly state beforehand what’s expected of people and what the consequences might be if they fail to meet those expectations.

“Unfortunately Christmas parties can also be a time when people behave in a different way to the rest of the year. If an allegation such as harassment is made against an employee, the incident should be dealt with in line with company policy. The complaint should be fully investigated and appropriate disciplinary action should be taken.

“Most Christmas parties will happen without any problems and ultimately they’re a time to boost staff morale and reward people for a year of hard work. As long as everyone understands that the same standards apply as expected in the normal working environment, then there should be no issues.”

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