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Common pitfalls of the Christmas party and how to avoid them

The office Christmas party is a great way to boost morale by rewarding staff and giving everyone a chance to bond, but when things go wrong the repercussions can go far beyond the next-day hangover.

It's important to remember that employment laws apply even when a party takes place somewhere other than in the workplace. This means that employers may be liable for incidents of harassment that take place at work-related social events and could face tribunal claims.Drink-fuelled behaviour is the root cause of many tribunal claims each year, and without risking being seen as party-poopers, employers should consider reminding staff of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour at staff social events - as well as highlighting the likely consequences of such behaviour.

While it's hard to stop employees over-indulging, limiting the amount of alcohol at the party, providing non-alcoholic options and supplying enough food can all help minimise the risk of employees getting drunk. It's also advisable to think carefully about making the event as inclusive as possible, so that everyone can enjoy it. Employers need to be sensitive to employees who don't drink alcohol or who don't eat certain foods, and it's always a good idea to consider briefing any speakers or entertainers in advance to ensure that their material is suitable and won't give offence.

Acas provides guidance on bullying and harassment and provides training on dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace.

Visit the Acas training and business solutions page for more information.

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