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Don’t Let Kate Moss or Amy Winehouse spoil Your Christmas Party

27thNovember. It must be about time for me to prepare for Christmas by grumbling that it’s all too commercial and it starts far too early (the sprouts have been cooking for several weeks now).

In other words, I have a severe attack of bah humbug - not yet a disability within the meaning of the DDA, but give it time ...... At this time of year I always send a Party Pooper Letter (PPL) to all my clients.

After the sort of year we’ve had, I’m not sure how many employers will be having a Christmas party for their employees. But just in case you are, and especially if you have any party animals who might emulate the Kate Moss or Amy Winehouse style of celebration, forewarned is forearmed.

The PPL effectively says, “Have a great time, but not so great you break the law.” The work's Christmas do is a work-related activity and that means that employees’ behaviour at the party is governed by the organization’s rules, including its disciplinary procedure.

If employees become excessively drunk, get involved in any fighting, unlawful harassment, the taking of drugs, or other similar unwanted behaviour either at the party or on the way home afterwards, they will be subject to the same procedures as would apply in the cold and sober light of day.

A wise employer will write to its employees before the event providing guidance, notifying employees of arrangements (including any arrangements to get home safely) and advising of the consequences of inappropriate behaviour. Every year everyone groans when I send out the PPL; but every year, someone comes back sheepishly (if they haven’t sent the PPL) or rather more relieved when they have.

The doctrine of vicarious liability means that employers can be liable for the wrongful acts of their employees in certain circumstances, which could include the work's party. At our introduction to employment law training I talk about vicarious liability in the context of discrimination.

Managers are always horrified to find out how it affects them. Make sure you protect yourself and then you can relax and enjoy the party.

For guidance on writing PPLs, or any other HR advice and support give us a call.

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