Don’t gift yourself a festive faux pas!

The “work do”, “office Christmas party”, “a get-together for a few drinks”. Whatever you like to call it, if you’re not careful, the one outcome could be more than a sore head!

1 in 5 have pulled a sickie

With the winding down season nearly upon us, the ever-tempting danger to let our hair down maybe a little too much is forever present.

According to research quoted in an article by HR Grapevine, 35% of those surveyed said they regretted something they had done while at a Christmas party. Furthermore, 1 in 3 admitted to revealing office secrets while under the influence of alcohol and nearly half (45%) said they had made a move on a co-worker.

One fifth of those surveyed had pulled a sickie the day after a Christmas party and those who did show up, 34% said they were too hungover to do any work.

Don’t be a scrooge

While no one likes to take the joy out of celebrations, it’s a good idea for HR teams to issue some guidelines or communications as to what is expected of your staff.

For those in higher positions, and therefore more likely to be privy to sensitive information, why not have a short get together and discuss specifically the things that are not to be spoken about during the party.

Make sure all staff are aware of an office-wide policy on Christmas parties and alcohol consumption, as well as what will happen for those who are found to be behaving inappropriately or irresponsibly. It would also be a good time to share any acceptable behaviour policies and code of conduct you may have, as well as what might be considered consent.

You should also remind staff that they are representing the business and that it is important not to do anything that would reflect negatively on the company’s reputation.

It would be sensible to put a few preventative methods in place to ensure your staff have a good night without it running into the next day.  A couple of suggestions would be to finish serving alcohol at a reasonable time and/or arrange for transport to take people home so that they stick to some sort of curfew.

Taking a Sneaky Day Off

Drunk or hungover employees can be unproductive and may disturb others at their work. They could also cause a hazard, especially if operating machinery, which could result in accidents and upset other staff.

While you don’t want your employees to arrive at work under the influence of alcohol, or hungover, you have a duty of care to your employees and if you deem it necessary you can also send them home. However, you should also remind them of the consequences they face when they return to work sober.

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

To reduce the risk of high-level sickness, why not try and hold parties on a day where people are not due to work the next day – for office workers, that might well be a Friday or Saturday, for example.

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.


Heather Love

Heather Love

Senior Associate Solicitor

Tel: +44 (0) 1483 411516

Office: Godalming Office

Email: h.love@downslaw.co.uk