With the festive season almost here, workplace parties are in full swing!

The festive party is often a great way to encourage camaraderie among employees and managers and to thank everyone for their hard work. It can however, carry hidden risk for employers, from claims of religious discrimination and sexual harassment to risks of drunk driving.

Below are 8 ways an employer can minimise their risk of liability when it comes to festive parties:

1. Enforce discrimination, harassment and employee conduct policies – the employer should reiterate to its employees that its workplace policies regarding harassment and conduct remain in effect during festive parties.
2. Make sure supervisors and managers set a good example and enforce and comply to workplace policies. Management employees should also be trained to spot instances of inappropriate conduct and report it to the employer/HR as soon as possible.
3. Exercise caution when serving alcohol – make sure employees do not become intoxicated or incoherent. You should also make sure that all employees are completely sober before driving home.
4. Keep the focus off religion – avoid overly religious symbols such as nativity scenes and stick with non-religious symbols such as snowmen and snowflakes.
5. Don’t make attendance mandatory – you should bear in mind that festive parties are not for everyone and some may have family obligations that may prevent them from attending.
6. Carefully plan the menu and entertainment – make sure that all dietary requirements are covered and that the entertainment is appropriate and appealing to a wide range of employees.
7. Be inclusive to all employees – don’t forgot those that work remotely and are not local to Head Office.
8. Respond to complaints in a timely manner – deal with any complaints head on. An employer has a legal duty to follow up and document any complaints once on notice that an employee has made a complaint about discrimination, harassment or inappropriate behaviour. Interim or disciplinary measures should be taken if needed.

If you require advice concerning any of the issues raised in this blog, contact one of our consultants who will be happy to help on 01284 774726 or email info@totally-hr.co.uk

Source: XpertHR, 17 November 2017