Are you prepared for the legal ramifications that may come with an office Christmas party?

A lawyer has given a stark warning to those who are planning an office Christmas party this year, that they can create issues in which employers may be responsible for and that HR teams may have to deal with.

Louise Plant, senior associate and head of personal injury at Ipswich-based law firm Prettys has explained that these parties can result in an expensive court case, staff losing their jobs or seeing a decrease in their wellbeing.

Below read the dos and don’ts of a Christmas staff party.

The dos

Ms Plant said it’s down to employers to protect themselves from every potential eventuality and they should identify any potential hazard and highlight such issues as excessive drinking.

She said it is also worth considering controlling the amount of free alcohol that is on offer.

It is a good idea to carry out a risk assessment to outline safety measures if employees become aggressive or drink too much.

The don’t forget

Ms Plant also said don’t forget you are still at work and even if your party is at a different venue, the law may still recognise the location you are at as an extension of the workplace.

As well as reminding your staff that certain rules relating to their behavior still apply and what is and is not acceptable behavior.

The do be prepared

Ms Plant said:

Generally, employers are finding it more difficult to escape responsibility when it comes to the actions of their employees.

If an incident does arise that it is important to record what happened and investigate the allegations being made. Irregardless, if the incident occurs due to a “rogue” employee your business could still be found to be responsible.

Misconduct at the office Christmas party can be far reaching:

  • If the misconduct is so serious as to amount to gross misconduct, this may result in the employee’s dismissal
  • The employer’s reputation could be at risk with the actions of the employee reflecting badly upon the employer and their business
  • If someone was injured/hurt as a result of the misconduct, a claim for personal injury and loss could be made by that person against the employer and the employee for the incident that took place
  • The act of misconduct could result in damage to working relationships throughout the employer’s business.


On 21/11/19 Reward Gateway, an employee engagement platform that brings together employee benefits, discounts, perks, reward and recognition in one unified hub, found that 65 per cent of employees would be happy to sacrifice their Christmas party and holiday bonus for rewards all year round.





Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.