As the festive season is upon us, many employers will soon be having parties for their staff, with food, drinks and, hopefully, a lot of fun on the menu.
Unfortunately, there many employment cases that result from work parties gone wrong. When the party season draws near, it is worth considering some of the steps that employers can take to keep things on the right track, so everybody can have a good time.
What are the risks?
Perhaps the most common of type of legal case, but certainly not the only type, that could arise from work parties is that of harassment or unlawful sexual discrimination.
According to the Equality Act 2010, employers may be liable for discriminatory behaviour and harassment by the other workers at the workplace and a work party might still be considered by the Employment Tribunal only as an extension of the workplace.
So, should an employee, after having a few drinks that have lowered their inhibitions makes undesired advances to colleagues at a work party, that the behaviour can cause a person to be able to bring a claim aimed at sexual harassment in an Employment Tribunal.
Claims are normally brought against the employers of workers, but it’s also important to know that claims can be made against individual members of staff who have acted improperly. This can mean that the employees become personally liable for compensation, in the same manner as an employer might be required to pay. For assistance in this area, contact a Solicitor Gloucester at a site like deeandgriffin.co.uk
It’s also important to realize that unwanted sexual advances can add up to harassment, even if there is no intention on the part of the offender to cause upset or offend. Tests for the Court to determine whether the undesirable behaviour wasn’t meant to cause distress or, even if it did, focus on whether it is reasonable for people faced with that unwanted behaviour to feel offended or angry.
Reducing the risk
So, what steps can an employer take before a party to reduce the risk?
It’s always a good idea to circulate carefully worded, important notes to workers before the party, reminding them that even though it is a party, it’s still a work event.
This should include a gentle reminder to for all colleagues to treat one another with respect. You can also indicate that failure to do so can lead not only to disciplinary action, but also to be personally liable for compensation claims if a case goes to an Employment Tribunal.
It goes without saying that the reminder must be diplomatic and carefully worded, but taking this action, hopefully you will avoid any behaviour that could cause upset and lead to legal issues. In addition, by demonstrating that you have taken steps to prevent discrimination and harassment occurs, you may be able to count on this as a defence for being responsible for the behaviour of your employees if bad behaviour still occurs.
While no one wants to spoil a good party, you can take steps to reduce the risk of facing legal action which is undesirable in the festive and New Year period and as such, you can help ensure that the work party is a fun event for everyone.