Christmas in the workplace: 3 things to look out for

Christmas parties. Secret Santas. The day after the night (or nights…) before.

This season brings to light issues of employee conduct,  how such conduct may affect relationships with colleagues and ultimately negatively impact on the wider reputation of the organisation.

1) Is it worth having a workplace social events policy?

The 2012 case of Gimson v Display By Design Ltd (where some colleagues got into a punch up after the end of a Christmas party) serves as a gentle reminder that actually, employers should have and maintain a policy on workplace social events because they have a duty towards their staff (and as a matter of god practice).

2. What happens if an employee does not attend work the next day or comes into work late?

Generally speaking, being absent from work because you are hungover, or are suffering from some after effect of ‘party behaviour’ is not a good reason.

An employer can make deductions from an employee’s pay if they arrive to work late or are absent for the day (as long as this right is reserved in the employment contract).

Employers should also keep in mind the procedure under their discipline and attendance policy.

3. Does what happened at a Christmas party stay at the Christmas party?

In the context of employee misdemeanours at company Christmas parties and whether an employee can be disciplined for misconduct, the short answer is no.

Employers can discipline the employee (reasonableness and discipline policy to be taken into account) if the incident is sufficiently closely connected to work to have an impact on the working situation.

Hopefully, employers will not be considering a dismissal letter being the wrapped gift to any of its employees this Christmas. In all seriousness, this time of year can cause some to go a little wild, however it is important to note that conduct still matters.

Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year to come.