A little naughty behavior might not be all that uncommon at your best friends Christmas party. However, what happens when a persons gets carried away with their free-spirited behavior at the companies annual Christmas office party? There’s a chance that an honest mistake could quickly escalate into a full-blown legal mess for both the employee and their employer. Let’s take a look at some legal tips on how you and your employer can avoid any liabilities while still having a worthy office party.
Keeping Your Christmas Office Party Legal
Don’t serve alcohol
This is probably not going to be the most popular party rule by many employees. However, let’s think about what we can potentially avoid by eliminating the beer fest. You’re going to hopefully minimize the drunken jokes and mistakes that quickly turn into sexual harassment and discrimination. You also don’t have to worry about your workforce attempting to drive drunk on their way home, risking a DUI, hurting themselves or potentially killing someone.
Control the alcohol
If you decide to provide alcohol, avoid the free-for-all approach or hire a catering business to serve the alcohol. This will discourage employees from consuming extreme amounts and servers can be instructed to cut off employees who have had too much to drink.
Party on the clock
Choosing to schedule the office party during what would be normal work hours can help to discourage legal mishaps related to drinking. Employees are going to be less likely to consume larger amounts of alcohol in the middle of the day opposed to at an after hours party.
Make it family oriented
Encourage employees to bring their spouses and children. Make sure to plan activities and or entertainment that can be seen as family appropriate. Your employees should know how to control their actions in a family setting, reducing legal situations such as sexual harassment and discriminatory remarks. Naturally, if your average employee’s personal characteristics fall short of being appropriate, this could backfire.
Point out that you’re still at work
Just because it’s an office party does not mean employees can do or say anything they want. Make it clear than any actions which are not appropriate during work hours can still carry disciplinary actions.
Throwing an office party can be a great way to show your employees that you appreciate what they do for you and the company. However, keep in mind that while they might all be grown-ups, it doesn’t mean they will act that way.