By Claire West
Following a recent survey of 1,974 UK bosses which found that almost half (48 per cent) said they were concerned about staff behaviour at the Christmas party, employment law experts have issued guidance for employers on how to survive the party season.
Specific concerns voiced by employers about Christmas parties in the survey included: general bad behaviour (25%) staff getting too drunk (23%), arguments between colleagues (7%), office flings (6%), and staff bullying (3%).
Employment law expert Peter Mooney from ELAS said: "It's all too easy for employers to trust staff to act responsibly, but each year we see a spike in calls from businesses who have experienced problems with staff behaviour during Christmas festivities.
"It's far easier to take steps to prevent problems in advance rather than waiting for problems to occur on the day."
Christmas party tips for employers
1. Set guidelines - Remind all staff by memo, email or notice board, or as part of an invitation, about the standards of behaviour expected and the disciplinary consequences of failing to meet those standards
2. Be vigilant - Office party jokes or humorous secret Santa gifts can easily be construed as bullying. Keep an eye out for any staff singled out or excluded by staff festivities
3. Arrange travel in advance - Ask staff to make arrangements for getting home from the party in advance, either by arranging transport for them or encouraging staff to take a taxi or public transport together
4. Make invitations clear - If staff are allowed to invite spouses to Christmas parties, make sure that same sex couples are not excluded
5. Don't make it easy to get drunk - Moderate consumption of alcohol to reasonable, responsible levels by keeping free drinks to a minimum or avoiding them altogether, and serving plenty of food and soft drinks