One in four bosses admit they would rather not be hassled with throwing a Christmas party for workers.
The findings from recruitment firm Macildowie Associates and Heatons Solicitors shows that many employers fear trouble.
One director said, “It’s not really worth all the hassle. Most of my people don’t really want one anyway. They’d rather take the money and go out drinking with their mates instead.”
Phil Bramhall, partner at Heatons advises businesses to plan properly.
“Decide what you want to achieve and carefully select the venue, refreshments and entertainment in line with that goal, taking into account the ethnic, age and gender diversity of your workforce. It may be that you want to allow people to let their hair down with as much booze as they can consume. That’s perfectly valid, as long as you realise that you may be liable for the actions of your employees in the course of such a binge.”
While Chris Lowndes of Macildowie’s warns: “If it goes wrong, which so often happens once the drink starts to flow, it could lead to discrimination, harassment or even unfair dismissal claims.”
Glaisyers, employment firm illustrates the reality of what can happen when things get out of hand. In a recent case an employee claimed constructive dismissal as the pay rise offered to the member of staff at the end of the company’s annual dinner-dance, didn’t materialise.
Despite the claimant losing, Russell Brown employment solicitor at the firm says bosses should still be on their guard:
“In this particular case the EAT held that the original promise was not contractually enforceable, and was part of a conversation that took place within the context of a social event. There is also the fact that the individual did receive a pay rise of over £10,000, which though wasn’t the amount promised, did go someway towards softening the EAT’s view towards the case.
“The office Christmas party is a potential banana skin for company bosses and have in recent years been the source of a large number of sexual discrimination claims. This is yet another danger that bosses need to be aware of and though the employer’s case for constructive dismissal was rejected here, employers should not only be on their best behaviour, but on their guard!”