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Are Your Employees Having Too Much of a Merry Christmas?

Dec 14, 2016
At this time of year Christmas Parties are in full swing with alcohol flowing freely, which can often lead to employees behaving inappropriately.

Employees are still very much responsible for their own behaviour at any work related events, and this includes the Christmas Party, whether they take place during their usual working hours or not or, if the event is held away from company premises.

A recent case which went to the High Court involved a Director of a company assaulting an employee by punching him, knocking the employee to ground and causing him to hit his head on the marble floor sustaining brain damage. The High Court found, on this occasion, that the Company was not responsible for the behaviour of the Director as the incident had taken place at some “impromptu” drinks at a hotel, after the organised Christmas party at a Golf Club.

Employers should however be aware that there is the potential for them to be considered to be vicariously liable for the behaviour of their employees whilst they are carrying out “work related” tasks and indeed whilst they are at the Christmas Party. This includes acts of harassment towards other members of staff.

Employers should therefore ensure that they have taken steps to make staff aware of what is considered inappropriate behaviour by having a staff handbook and polices which set out exactly what is expected of staff and, that any conduct issues are addressed as soon as possible after the event.

In some cases the behaviour could warrant an immediate dismissal for gross misconduct, however, employers must ensure they follow the correct process when dismissing an employee. Companies should have a disciplinary process set out in the company staff handbook.

EmployAssist can advise and assist in preparing a staff handbook and can in some cases deal with the disciplinary process on your behalf. If you would like any further advice please contact Ezra Moffatt at ezra@employassisthr.co.uk or by telephone on 0333 400 7920.