It might sound crazy but if something untoward happens at the Christmas party, it is possible for the employer to be held vicariously liable.
In the recent case of Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Limited an employee, Mr Bellman, became embroiled in an argument with the managing director of the recruitment agency he worked for.
The argument took place at a hotel following the company Christmas party and revolved around a disagreement about the terms of Mr Bellman’s employment.
Things escalated resulting in the company’s managing director, Mr Major, punching the claimant in the face twice, causing Mr Bellman to suffer serious brain damage.
Mr Bellman claimed that Northampton Recruitment Limited was vicariously liable for the managing director’s actions.
Initially the High Court held that the assault was not connected with Mr Major’s employment, however, the Court of Appeal later overturned this concluding that there was sufficient connection between Mr Major’s job and the incident that occurred at the after-party.
Christmas parties are best viewed as an extension of the workplace. Those who attend are supposed to have fun but should remember that they are only there because they are an employee of the company.
It can be useful to gently remind staff of party etiquette in advance of your Christmas celebration, especially if it is likely to be an alcohol-fuelled affair.