Tis The Season For Work Christmas Parties

Date Added 12.12.16

A Christmas party is a great way to boost morale by rewarding staff and giving everyone a chance to relax. However it is important to remember that employment laws apply even when the party takes place somewhere other than the work place. This means that you as an employer can still be liable for incidents of harassment that take place at work related social events.

While it is hard to stop over indulgence limiting the amount of alcohol at the party, supplying non-alcoholic options and supplying food can help to minimise the risk to employees without seeming like a Scrooge.

It has been decided in a high court ruling (Bellman v Northampton Recruitment) this week that a company is not vicariously liable for injuries caused by employee after a work Christmas party.

In this case there was an assault of a manager by a director after a work Christmas party. The incident happened after the party when the employees involved and other colleagues continued drinking at a hotel until 3.00am. The assault caused serious brain injury to the manager and the decision was taken to sue the company directly rather than the director personally.

It was held that as the assault occurred after the Christmas party itself the company could not be vicariously liable.

The decision serves at a festive reminder that companies could be held responsible for behaviour at work events where the alcohol is plentiful.

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