It’s that time of year again. Love them or hate them, the invitations to office Christmas parties will be arriving soon. For employers, parties pose a particular challenge. Graeme Bellenger, a partner in the Employment Department at Kidd Rapinet’s London office says: “Nobody wants to be a killjoy, or more appropriately a Scrooge, but you have to take seriously the potential minefield here.”
For example, it is important to carry out a Health and Safety assessment of all possible risks and take reasonable steps to reduce them, as you would for any work activity. Did you know, for example, that over 1,000 people annually are injured by Christmas trees? Anything involving a naked flame is a bad idea. Firms need to check that decorations are put up safely and do not pose a fire hazard. Equally, firms need to ensure that things don’t get out of hand. One of the biggest causes of post-festive season litigation is people letting their hair down (as they see it) and things getting out of control. Employees should be made aware that normal disciplinary procedures apply.
Graeme Bellenger comments: “Remember that employers can be held responsible for employees’ actions after consuming alcohol provided by the employer. And as regards mistletoe, don’t even think about putting some up!”