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Ccw Business Lawyers Christmas Party Warning Dont Let Hr Hangover

Monday, 14 December 2009

CCW Business Lawyers is extending a warning to both employers and employees as the Christmas party season gets underway - don't let the office party get out of hand - or you could face legal consequences.

Whether it's illicit kissing under the mistletoe which goes too far, photocopying body parts or insulting co-workers or the boss - every year, Christmas party shenanigans can cause HR departments to have a hang-over well into the new year. 

Employees can often find themselves coming back to work in the New Year to face formal warnings, tribunals and in extreme cases, even sackings. 

Donna Reynolds an Associate at CCW Business Lawyers, says that there's also a risk to employers who may face potential anti-social behaviour, personal injury or discrimination claims against them. 

"People have too much to drink and there are sometimes liaisons between staff members or arguments which can turn into physical fights.  There's also a danger of digital cameras being used to take inappropriate pictures of staff and being e-mailed round the office or being posted on social networking sites for all to see."

Employers also need to beware that just because the office Christmas party might continue into the small hours without the boss present - it may still be their responsibility if there are any problems.

Donna continued:  "If there's a free bar for employees and everyone leaves the workplace social event in high spirits, employers could very well be responsible in the event that something untoward should happen en-route to the next pub."

It's even thought that an employer could be held partly responsible if a staff member drove home drunk and had an accident if a free bar was provided in a venue not served by public transport of if, for some reason, public transport had stopped running.

Other issues facing employers this Christmas is not providing adequate refreshments for those who don't drink alcohol or eat meat due to personal and religious reasons or holding a party on a religious holiday which could contravene the 2003 Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations. 

CCW has outlined the top three HR myths on the run up to Christmas 2009 - so there's no excuse for being caught out this year!

  1. Employers are not liable for accidents at the Christmas party or any other after work parties.  This is false - employers can be liable for their employees or their agent's actions.  HR should be clear to employees that this is a work-related party and always investigate any allegations of misconduct.


  1. Any harassment claims will be brought against the person carrying out the harassment, not the employers.  This is false - employers can be liable for acts carried out by their employees in the course of employment. HR should ensure harassment, bullying and equal opportunity policies are up to date and should take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination occurring.


  1. Employees can take pictures of colleagues and post them on-line.  This is false - everyone has the 'right to respect for a private life'. This is particularly hard to police but employees should ask permission from each individual before posting office Christmas party pictures on social networking sites.




Issued by Beattie Communications (www.beattiegroup.com) on behalf of CCW Business Lawyers.