office party etiquette


As we launch head long into the festive season, employers look forward to their Christmas office parties with a certain amount of trepidation.

Nick Phillips, a Partner at Beswicks Legal, sets out some practical tips for employers. As an employer, it is important that you assess the risks involved before the party to reduce your health and safety obligations in the event that the worst happens. It’s good practice for some of your senior staff to refrain from drinking in case they are required to look after other employees or have to police behaviour at the party.

Consider how your employees will get home – employers owe their employees a duty of care and should, at the least, offer local taxi company details to their employees.

Avoid holding the party at your premises, otherwise you expose yourself to personal injury claims and damage to company property, if things get out of hand!

It is important to avoid harassment or other types of discrimination. Christmas parties can lead to allegations of sexual harassment, particularly when the alcohol is flowing. Remind all staff of the expected behaviour levels before the party and the action that will be taken in the event of inappropriate behaviour. It’s a work event and therefore staff are expected to act professionally.

Deal with employees who abuse your hospitality and take sickness following the party by stressing that annual leave should be taken if they are too “tired” to attend work the next day, rather than ring in sick.

Employers should be firm but fair – it is an opportunity to have fun but all too often it does lead to problems. Good preparation prior to the event can make sure the event is a great success.

Nick can be contacted for further information regarding your legal obligations as an employer on 01782 404706 or email