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The Twelve Bells of Wisdom for Employers at Christmas

posted 6 months ago

With the festive season approaching and Christmas parties firmly back on the agenda, we look at some workplace issues commonly faced by employers at this time of year and suggest some practical tips for dealing with them successfully.

1. Prevention is Better than Cure! 

Always remember the health and safety of staff and clients around this festive season. Employers are obliged under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Acts 2005, to provide a safe place of work. This should include arranging safe travelling options to and from any events and possibly the next morning also. It should also ensure safety notices and procedures at the venue and precautions to avoid the event getting out of hand e.g., time restrictions, alcohol serving time limits and the quantity of free alcohol.

2. Remind Staff of What is Naughty and not Nice?

Each year without exception, we are asked to advise employers about an issue that occurred at a work or client Christmas party. Before the Christmas party, it is advisable to send a reminder to all staff that they are expected to conduct themselves properly and that any inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated and will be subject to the disciplinary policy. Employees should be reminded that all workplace policies apply to the event including the bullying, discrimination, harassment and sexual harassment policies and that they must respect their colleagues and not to let alcohol blur their perception or result in inappropriate behaviour or conduct. Inform employees that should anything inappropriate occur at the event that they should utilise the internal policies.

You should keep evidence of this reminder to assist in defending a possible claim of vicarious liability in respect of the conduct of employees.

3. Social Media Control 

Before the Christmas party, circulate rules about employee posts and pictures on social media in respect of work events, reminding staff about posting anything that may put the company’s reputation into disrepute and to respect individuals’ privacy rights.

Make sure that employees are clear on your social media policy and what is appropriate to post online. If you do not currently have a social media policy in place for your business, this could be the perfect opportunity to get one drawn up. A social media policy will make it clear to employees what the consequences of any breaches of the policy will be, including breaches of data policy, bullying and harassment and damage to the reputation of your business.

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