The time has come to let down your hair, relax and enjoy the company of friends and colleagues at the annual party.
Quite right too!
It’s a time to reward and be rewarded for a year of productivity, professionalism and good practice.
Christmas parties can be an occasion to see the friendly, social side of colleagues away from the hustle and bustle of work; a time to connect as people, not just fellow workers. There is absolutely nothing wrong with sharing a passion for sport, movies, books, dogs or whatever with the MD or the office junior over a glass of red wine.
Good relations with one another will often make for improved performance at work. They are the oil that keeps everything moving in any workplace.
However, Christmas parties are not the occasions on which to air your grievances, make romantic approaches or tell anyone what you really think of them. If the manager asks you what you want to drink, do not reply “I dinna like you” as one former colleague did, before being gently escorted home.
Words spoken and deeds done at workplace social occasions can have long lasting consequences for all concerned. You could end up celebrating the New Year by looking for a new job. In the most serious cases they can result in a visit to a police cell or hospital bed.
Even if Christmas parties are held outwith the workplace, employees are still expected to behave in an appropriate and considerate manner to each other and those round about them. If an employee’s behaviour reflects badly on the business then it is entirely appropriate to take disciplinary action. Where bad behaviour is public, it is often essential that an employer is seen to take action.
People have been racist, homophobic, sexist and violent at Christmas parties. Consequences are unavoidable and often serious. People have been seriously injured once drink has been consumed and common sense has evaporated: losing your job is the least of your worries when the police have charged you and a prison sentence looms.
Our advice to everyone is – enjoy the party, be sensible and look forward to returning to work without embarrassment or worry. If you are an employer, don’t overreact to anything minor said or done in the heat of the moment. Equally, however, some behaviour will require to be addressed, even informally.
Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year from all at Falkirk Employment Law.