Christmas Party - MLP Law

Christmas Party

It’s that time of year again, when employers want to reward staff for all their hard work and engender the festive spirit by having a Christmas party. But, as is becoming increasingly more common for employers, there are wider considerations (in the form of Covid and the mutated strain of Omicron), in addition to the usual concerns, when planning and hosting a Christmas bash. Read on to find out our employment team’s top tips for successfully managing this issue, taking into account the vagaries of organising a party in 2021.

Christmas Party


It’s that time of year again, when employers want to reward staff for all their hard work and engender the festive spirit by having a Christmas party. But, as is becoming increasingly more common for employers, there are wider considerations (in the form of Covid and the mutated strain of Omicron), in addition to the usual concerns, when planning and hosting a Christmas bash. Read on to find out our employment team’s top tips for successfully managing this issue, taking into account the vagaries of organising a party in 2021.
 
1.       The first question to be asked is whether or not to even have a party this year. The rise of flu bugs in the winter, the introduction of Omicron and the general problems surrounding Covid, mean that many businesses are unsure if they should go ahead with parties where staff will physically mix. Indeed, there have been recent media reports about large organisations, like the accountancy firm Deloittes, deciding not to have the usual company wide-event. Instead, like many others, such firms are encouraging smaller gatherings, which are either team or department based. Our advice would be to exercise common sense and ensure that any event is Covid secure or, where the event will be taking place outside the workplace, that current Covid guidelines are being observed. Employers should also be sensitive to staff members who no longer want to attend due to Covid concerns.
 
2.       Don’t exclude anyone but also ensure that employees don’t feel obligated to attend, as there can be a variety of pressures on staff which can make attendance at a work party feel like a chore. For instance, employers should be mindful of the timings of other religious festivals that take place in December, when choosing a date. They should also factor in that some staff will have childcare issues or other family responsibilities, In summary, employers should be understanding of staff who cannot attend.
 
3.       If ‘other halves’ are to be invited, don’t forget to include employees with same sex partners.
 
4.       Although we all want to eat, drink and be merry – don’t base socialising exclusively on consuming alcoholic drinks; some employees will not drink for religious/health reasons or will need to drive home. On the other side of the coin, if supplying alcohol or offering free drinks, ensure that there are plenty of soft drinks available and have members of the management team informally keeping an eye out for staff who may have had one too many (and gently pour them into a taxi).
 
5.       Try and accommodate dietary requirements for staff with religious requirements, food preferences (such as vegetarianism) or allergies.
 
6.       On the day of the party, managers should be considerate of the event and not have unreasonable expectations regarding completion of work or deadlines, which could prevent a member of staff from joining in. There is no point have a party that no-one gets to go to.
 
7.       Employers should also be careful about the timing of parties: lunchtime or midweek parties have the potential to cause problems if your employees are returning to work in a less than productive state. An office full of hungover people might cause problems later on, if they’re making mistakes.
 
8.       This year, it is more pertinent than ever to consider appropriate activities at the Christmas party. Dancing and party games may make social distancing harder, so it may be better to have a seated event or an event that allows participation by Zoom for some (even though that is so 2020!).
 
9.       Whilst not wanting to be a killjoy, it can be helpful to set out a few pointers in advance of the party about appropriate behavior. Staff should be reminded that they should be respectful and professional towards each other, as they would be if they were at work. It may also be sensible to run over the rules that you have in place to ensure that your event is Covid secure, to reflect the most recent government guidance.
 
10.   If staff will be working the day after the party, be clear about expectations at work – it may be that employees are expected to attend but can do so a bit later, if agreed with the relevant line manager.
 
Finally, if you are having a party – don’t forget to have a good time, we all deserve it!
 
If you would like to advice from the Employment team at MLP Law in respect of any of the issues raised here or more generally, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0161 926 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @HRHeroUK

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