Christmas Parties: Don't be tempted to treat yourself to a sick day

Apparently, around 9 out of every 10 businesses have had an employment related issue as a result of Christmas party antics. One of the most commonplace issues is the hangover and staff calling in sick the next day after drinking too much at the Christmas party the night before.

Here are a few things employers can do make sure all is fair.

1. Address the issue
Firstly, acknowledge that there could be an issue – and don’t bury your head in the sand. In a recent survey by PwC, comprising of 2,000 UK workers around 32% of respondents admitted they’d used a sick day to nurse a hangover.

Whilst employers cannot put distinct rules in place to prevent people calling in sick with a hangover, employers must accept that there is a chance it can happen, which brings us to our second point.

2. Set out a clear policy
Before plans are even considered for the Christmas party, make sure all staff are aware of an office-wide policy on Christmas parties and alcohol consumption. Plus, make sure it is set out well in advance as well as any consequences for irresponsible behaviour or consuming too much alcohol. That way, all employees will know what is acceptable – and you should see your “sickie” figures curbed slightly as a result.

3. Be responsible
If it is your own office party, put a few preventative methods in place to ensure your staff have a good night without it running into the next day. Finish serving alcohol at a sensible time and arrange for transport to take people home so that they stick to some sort of curfew.

4. Don’t let it be disruptive
Drunk or hungover employees can be unproductive and may disturb others at their work. They could also prove a hazard, especially if operating machinery, which can cause accidents and upset other staff. If you suspect a member of your team is suffering with a hangover at work, then make sure they are safe and working at a level which benefits you and your employee.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask
If you think someone is drunk, or hungover, ask them. As an employer, you have a duty of care to your employees and if you deem it necessary you can also send them home.

It is not just the Christmas party where these issues prevent themselves either. It is estimated that around 2.4 million football fans called in sick following the World Cup this summer. What’s more, a massive 16.5 million people actually planned a sick day following the Super Bowl game in America. It was such a high profile issue, it was coined “Super Sick Monday” – and was even given its own hashtag on twitter!

Set out a clear policy and set examples of those who don't follow it. Log any incidents and make sure they are investigated thoroughly, so that others aren’t tempted to follow in their footsteps!

If you would like some advice relating to employment law this holiday season, or indeed during any other time of the year where there is a chance of increased absence, contact Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.

David Seals

David Seals


Tel: +44 (0) 1306 502218

Office: Dorking Office