Christmas party season is fast approaching and some employees have a tendency to forget that even where an office party is held at an off-site venue it is still time spent “in the course of your employment”. Therefore the popular theory that “What happens at the Christmas party, stays at the Christmas party” is unfortunately not necessarily the case. Nobody wants to be dismissed for gross misconduct due to bad behaviour at a social event or for posting something inappropriate about themselves or others on social media.
Where alcohol or even a free bar is provided by your employer you do still have a duty to retain some semblance of sensible and responsible behaviour. Even under the influence of alcohol it is not acceptable to make unwanted advances, air grudges, be abusive, fight, harass or discriminate against others, drink and drive or use the photocopier inappropriately.
Jokes you would not tell or comments that you would not use in the office because they might cause offence, are just as likely to cause offence in a party situation even if they do get a laugh from all concerned after a few drinks. Remember for example that not everyone drinks alcohol, celebrates Christmas or likes social events and their views and beliefs must be respected.
Another often forgotten, but important point, is that it is completely inappropriate to discuss work matters, other members of staff, clients, suppliers or customers in a social environment where you can be overheard by others.
Senior staff also have the added responsibility not to make any rash promises such as agreeing pay increases or discussing promotions or company matters under the influence of alcohol as this could well be regretted later.
The office Christmas party should be a happy and fun experience for all concerned and remain in the spirit of the season of goodwill. One last tip - do aim to turn up on time to work the next day even if you do have a hangover.
Whether you are an employer or employee seeking employment advice on this or any other matter, please contact Gill Brown or Jack Gardener on 01256 854631 in the employment team at Phillips Solicitors and they will be happy to assist.