Surviving the Christmas Season

If you are counting, its not quite 3 months since my last article, but as Christmas Parties usually create extra work for me, it seemed a good topic to comment on.

So how do you survive the Christmas season without Grievances, Disciplinaries and a bill from me?

Christmas Parties
The Christmas Party used to be the highlight of any Company calendar, offering the chance to unwind with colleagues over a couple of drinks. However research by Mind has shown it is not always want staff want: 28% said they like to spend time with colleagues but wish it didn’t revolve around drinking.

A number of companies are introducing ’Sober Chaperones’ from each team to ensure their colleagues behave responsibly and most importantly, get home safely. Other companies are having lunchtime events in the hope to reduce the chance of a work event getting out of hand or organising ’team building experiences’ to avoid over consumption of alcohol.

For years, employers and HR staff have had to deal with the fall out of Christmas parties. I could write a book on Christmas Party problems but here’s a few – one employee fell of her high heels and broke her ankle, one employee fell over, banged their head on the toilet as they fell and knocked themselves out and one person thought it would be funny to take photos of other (male) staff in the toilet, then send the photos to other staff via social media. This was a works event; it caused offence to other staff and a grievance and disciplinary followed.

The worst incidents end up in court – a Company liable after a member of staff punched an employee at a Christmas party, leaving the member of staff brain damaged.

If you are asking staff to contribute to the Christmas Party – this is rarely a celebration for everyone. There are often a few members of staff eating their turkey but thinking about the extra toy they could have bought their children if they hadn’t felt obliged to attend and pay towards the party.

Think about your Christmas event – its a great opportunity to celebrate the last year. One thing i have noticed is that many staff drink less if they are paying for their own drinks. Maybe have a word with any staff who enjoy a drink about ensuring that it is a comfortable environment for everyone.

Secret Santa

Over recent years this has become more of an issue. I remember recoiling in horror when an elderly male member of staff dressed up as Santa and insisted all female staff sit on his knee and give him a kiss in order to receive their gift. Whilst this man was a lovely employee – it wasn’t appropriate and it wasn’t so long ago.

Nothing ruins Christmas like an employment Tribunal that arises out of an inappropriate Secret Sant gift. Inappropriate gifts are considered as toothbrushes (implies bad breath), deodorant, underwear, products of a sexual nature, phallic themed chocolate and female sanitary products

Many companies are issuing guidance on secret Santa presents as Employers can be held liable if an employee gives another employee an inappropriate gift – it can also cause animosity among colleagues.


Eat, Drink and Be Merry will always be my goal at a Christmas – but you can be merry with one drink and great company.

Hopefully I won’t hear from you, but just incase things go wrong, let’s have a chat and attempt damage limitation.

Merry Christmas!

Julie Brewster, Chartered MCIPD, FCMI
HR Support 4U Ltd

HR Matters with Julie Brewster

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