Employees seem to forget that the office Christmas party is an extension of the workplace. Staff are supposed to have fun at the party but they must remember that they are only there because they are an employee of the company.
It can be useful to remind staff before a party of the etiquette which is expected over and above them having fun. This will forewarn staff that there may be consequences if they go too far.
Overall, no one should attend the party thinking what happens at the Christmas party, stays at the Christmas party.
Even if something happens after the party, an employer may be considered vicariously liable.
In a reported case this week, a managing director assaulted an employee whilst at a drinking session after an office Christmas party. On this occasion, the company was not considered liable by the High Court for various reasons. One reason is that the people were at the drinking session completely voluntarily and non-employees were also present.
Whilst in this particular case the employer wasn’t liable, it doesn’t mean that the behaviour at the office Christmas party or straight after the party won’t get employees into trouble with the boss the next day; or that employers won’t be liable for employee’s behaviour.