10 December 2014

The season to be jolly

Office Christmas parties can be tricky for employers: although an opportunity for festive cheer, they are also an extension of the work environment, which means employers could be liable for injuries caused by or to their staff, not only at the party but on the journey home afterwards.

What this means for you

Employers need to strike the right balance when planning their Christmas parties, encouraging festive fun but managing it in order to limit the risks to their staff. When decking the halls with boughs of holly, you should therefore consider:

  • Choosing an appropriate venue which is safe, work-appropriate and easy to access for all employees
  • Checking the qualifications and competency of any party organisers
  • Undertaking a risk assessment of the event, identifying and putting in place suitable measures to minimise risk
  • Publishing a clear and coherent policy on conduct in the workplace, giving examples of unacceptable behaviour and its consequences
  • Restricting the amount of free alcohol available to curb excessive drinking, providing non-alcoholic drinks and food to counter the effects of alcohol
  • Labelling foods, making sure that dishes containing nuts are clearly marked to protect those with nut allergies
  • Paying particular attention to the positioning of decorations and furniture to minimise fire and trip hazards, and making sure that fire exits are not blocked
  • Making sure that your liability insurance is up-to-date
  • Turning off Christmas lights at the end of the evening, as insurance may not cover untested electrical equipment
  • Publishing and sticking to clear start and finish times for the event
  • Designating a responsible contact person to oversee the event and provide assistance if necessary
  • Briefing staff on travel home after the event, providing numbers for local taxi firms and making clear that drinking and driving are not acceptable (you may even wish to make appropriate travel arrangements for your employees by booking a shuttle bus or taxis)

By following these simple steps, employers can make sure that their staff are able to enjoy themselves safely, and that the company does not wake up the following morning with a sore head and an expensive bill.

Category: Article