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The Company Christmas Party

Published 01 Dec 2014

With the new lower drink-driving tolerance limit, it is recommended that unless the company makes transport arrangements for their staff, the focus of the company Christmas party should be shifted away from alcohol consumption. The same rules and boundaries apply at  the off-site and after hours Christmas function as they do in the workplace.

Due to the dangers and liabilities involved with hosting a company Christmas party, companies and individuals alike are coming to the realisation that alcohol should not be the main attraction. There are ways to organise fun, yet safe, festivities that will prevent family and friends from becoming the next alcohol - or drug-related statistic. Bearing in mind the new lower drink-driving limit has been slashed by nearly 40%.

Disciplinary issues
  • Neither factor of the party being 'off site' nor after hours exempts employee's from complying with the company's code of contduct.
  • Employment law provides that when an employee's conduct is such that it impacts negatively on the employer's business, conflicts with the employee's duties, or undermines the employer's trust and confidence in the employee, it may provide the basis for a dismissal, or warrant disciplinary action.
  • It is advisable to remind staff that the disciplinary rules still apply to them during the office party. Simply because the party is held out of office hours and maybe off the employer's premises does not mean that employees should consider themselves absolved from behaving responsibly
  • This could include highlighting the fact that drinking to excess, the use of illegal drugs, fighting, the use of bad language, inappropriate sexual conduct, and so on, will be considered to be acts of serious misconduct.
  • From an employment and health and safety law perspective, the employer may well be liable for the damage or injury any such misbehaviour by its employees may cause to others.