We are now halfway through December and across the country the work Christmas party season is in full swing.
Whilst this is a time to let your hair down and your employer to thank you for all your hard work throughout the year, it is still a work-related activity and employees should be mindful of their behaviour.
This means that even though your work Christmas party might be held outside of the office and outside of normal working hours it is still, in a legal sense, an extension of the office environment. Your actions at a work Christmas party could result in disciplinary action, a disciplinary meeting or even the termination of your contract.
To help you avoid the work Christmas party pitfalls we have made this list of five things not to do.
- Don’t Drink Too Much – Drink responsibly. Everybody knows that alcohol can have an impact on your behaviour. Make sure it doesn’t loosen your tongue because you could end up saying something you regret and/or behaving in an unprofessional manner. Being very drunk in what is a work environment could in itself warrant disciplinary action.
Alcohol is first on our list as drinking too much can lead people to make poor decisions. Some of which make our top five things not to do at a work Christmas party.
- Don’t Take Drugs – Employers cannot simply ignore the use of drugs on their premises or at a work function as it will damage their reputation. The use of illegal drugs at a work function is unlikely to be tolerated and could see your contract terminated. If you are convicted of a criminal drugs offence arising from the Christmas party your employer would be within their rights to take disciplinary action against you and potentially dismiss you for gross misconduct.
- Don’t Fight – Fighting with colleagues, or anyone at a Christmas do, is a bad idea. Being drunk is not an excuse for your actions so beware that fighting is likely to result in disciplinary action or could even get you sacked.
- Sexual Harassment – You should treat the end-of-year party like any other day at work and behave accordingly. Being drunk is no excuse for your comments or actions. The workplace sexual harassment policy will be in place at a work party so avoid making any sexist comments. It is also wise not to make any sexual advances within a professional environment because if viewed as sexual misconduct it could result in your dismissal for gross misconduct or disciplinary action.
- Don’t Call in Sick – Post-party absenteeism could leave you with a note on your record. If you plan on arriving to work late you must ensure that the correct permissions have been given. If you have got in trouble for being late in the past, turning up for work late after the Xmas party could result in an investigation and disciplinary action against you. Clearly, if you are genuinely unwell you will need to follow your employer’s sickness policy.
The expert employment solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers can provide immediate legal support anywhere in the UK for employees undergoing a disciplinary or grievance hearing. Call us any time 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.
Sarah Evans is an employment lawyer with expertise in harassment and sex discrimination; she works at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.