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Christmas party planning – what should employers be aware of?

To have a very merry Christmas there are several factors that employers should be aware of when arranging their Christmas party.

Christmas parties are ripe for discrimination allegations, disciplinary and grievance issues. Christmas parties are an extension of the workplace and employers risk being held variously liable for their employees’ actions at parties, and in some cases, for actions occurring after the party.

Our top tips are: –

  1. Invite everyone! Do not forget to invite employees who are on sick leave, maternity leave, paternity/adoption leave or assume based upon religious beliefs that the employee would not want to attend. Be inclusive to all so consider vegetarian, vegan, kosher, halal food options. Have non-alcoholic drinks available.
  2. Consider whether the premises is suitable for employees who are disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010, and if necessary, consider reasonable adjustments.
  3. Check that your equal opportunity, bullying and harassment policies cover social events. If they don’t deal with social events, arrange to update them. Before the party remind employees of these policies, how to complain if they are breached and of the consequences of breaching them.
  4. Review your social media policy. Is it appropriate for photographs from the Christmas party to be uploaded on social media?
  5. If any allegations are raised during or after the party take them seriously and deal with them according to your grievance and disciplinary policies. It may be necessary for your business to take immediate action at the party.
  6. Seek to distance your business from any ‘after’ parties.
  7. Remember your business is still responsible for the health and safety of employees whilst at this party so a risk assessment should be undertaken. You may want to consider taking actions such as arranging transport home for employees or considering any issues your business may face the following day if employees are likely to be tired or hungover.
  8. Remind employees to drink responsibly and that disciplinary action may be taken against anyone exhibiting unruly behaviour.


This article does not constitute legal advice and reliance should not be placed on it. Please contact us or call us on 01483 303636  if you require specific legal advice on events surrounding Christmas parties or to update your company handbook and policies.