While it is important to give staff a chance to let off steam in the run up to Christmas and to reward them for their contribution to the business, some employers view Christmas parties as a real hangover in terms of the potential sexual harassment claims that follow.
Companies should approach the issue from a preventive viewpoint, as any social event, even if in a different location, is really an extension of the office. Employers have a legal duty to prevent harassment at Christmas parties, just like they have a legal duty to prevent harassment in the office. This means a business must show that it tried to deter potential harassers from engaging in such conduct in the first place; it is not enough to state that you were simply not aware of the unwanted behaviour. As employees are generally less careful when it comes to their conduct at office social events compared to during regular working hours, Christmas parties can have serious consequences for employers if it can be shown that they had done nothing to prevent such behaviour happening in the first place.
To read the full article, please click here.