Christmas Parties

Want to hear a truly frightening statistic?

Well, apparently one in four of us will ‘enjoy’ an illicit snog at the annual office Christmas party.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

But just wait until the post party hangover sets in and your colleagues remember exactly what you did and said after having one Snowball too many.

For all its attractions, the office Christmas party is fraught with peril for both employers and employees alike. And lots of them are down to the dreaded booze.

It’s no surprise that the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reckons 10% of workers know of a colleague who has either been disciplined or dismissed for inappropriate behaviour at the Christmas bash.

Common reasons include fighting, threatening behaviour, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination and other “inappropriate behaviour".

You can count ‘unorthodox’ use of the office photocopier, amorous activity and insulting the boss amongst that latter category.

The good news is that it’s perfectly acceptable to:

  • Enjoy yourself

  • Get to know people from other areas of the organisation

  • Discuss personal interests

  • Dance

  • Network with senior staff

But you can’t use the festive bash as an excuse to force yourself on the colleague you’ve had a crush on for the last 12 months unless you want to end up on the wrong side of a sexual harassment claim.

Posting unflattering pictures of your boss or colleagues on Facebook is also off limits. This could lead to a loss of reputation and trust between staff, and in serious cases can bring your employer into disrepute.

Bosses should avoid the perils of tipple-tattle – discussing office politics and promotion prospects whilst knocking back the booze in a less-than-confidential environment.

To be really on the safe side employers and managers should:

  • Familiarise themselves with their policy on Christmas parties

  • Consider issuing a statement to employees in advance of a Christmas party to remind them of appropriate standards of behaviour

  • Make sure they are up to speed on the Equality Act 2010, which makes employers liable for acts of discrimination, harassment and victimisation carried out by their employees in the course of employment, unless they can show that they took reasonable steps to prevent such acts.

  • Ensure any possible disciplinary action for ‘offences’ during the Christmas bash is covered in company’s disciplinary policy.


    Once all that is in place, everyone can let their hair down a little and enjoy themselves.


    And have a very Happy Christmas.

If you would like to discuss these issues, or other HR concerns then please

Contact Us