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  • Writer's pictureSusan Wakelin

Are employers responsible for the behaviour of their staff at social events?

Updated: May 25, 2023

Company party

Love it or hate it, the festive season is rapidly approaching, where Companies and staff celebrate, sometimes to excess. Festive parties can be a fun experience for many and a way for Companies to reward employees for their hard work throughout the year.

However, the mix of alcohol and the social atmosphere, can result in unpredictable situations arising.

Are employers responsible for the conduct of their employees at social events?

A Company does have a legal duty to protect the health and safety of their employees at all times, including during social events that spill over from the workplace or have been arranged, whether formally or informally, by the organisation, a manager or a team leader.

What can go wrong?

A wide range of misconduct can happen, which may result in a complaint from a member of staff or a third party, including violence, bullying, harassment, loss or damage to property etc.

Misconduct can damage the Company's reputation, and result in legal action and/or internal grievance and disciplinary procedures being invoked.

What can a business do to protect themselves and their staff?

Companies should communicate clearly prior to any event, that Company parties and social events are work-related and, as such, standards of behaviour are to be maintained.

Employees should be made fully aware of what the Company considers misconduct, and the consequences of such behaviour, ie that it could result in an investigation and disciplinary action being taken.

In addition to this, employers should make sure, where possible, that at least two managers are designated to take responsibility for monitoring each social event to ensure that any excessive drinking or misbehaviour is dealt with quickly, at the time, and, if necessary, employees are asked to leave.

SWan HR Consultancy (London & Kent)

SWan HR is an HR consultancy that specialises in HR support for small to medium sized businesses in the South East.

"Where HR Succeeds, the Business Achieves"

SWan HR was founded by Susan Wakelin, MCIPD, who is a qualified HR professional with over thirty years' experience, from setting up, auditing and improving HR functions to management coaching and supporting organisations through difficult situations, transformation and change.

SWan HR provides a broad range of tailored HR services including an HR audit, HR advice, HR outsourcing, HR coaching and project work for all businesses.

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Contact Susan Wakelin now to take advantage of a free half-hour consultation to talk through your initial HR concerns and how you can manage these going forward.

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