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Let your hair down, but not your guard

It’s that time of year again. Children are sending letters off to Lapland, parents are getting boxes of decorations down from the loft and HR teams up and down the country are starting to fret about who might do what to whom at the company Christmas party.


Christmas events were almost entirely virtual in 2020 and last year’s rush back to the bars and ballrooms was heavily disrupted by Covid’s Omicron variant. But, fingers crossed, 2022 seems to be seeing the return to festive partying that the hospitality sector so desperately needs.

Businesses still need to be mindful of Covid and those employees who might not feel safe attending a large gathering, especially if there’s a local spike in infections. However, the risks of rewarding staff with a company bash are now more likely to come from employee behaviour.

Heather Wilmot, ARAG’s Claims Operations Manager, comments:

Covid safety is certainly lower on the list of Christmas party concerns for employers this year, but that doesn’t mean that they can forget about it entirely.

Party planners should still have contingency plans in place. No business wants to hold a ‘super-spreader’ event and have to face a sickness absence crisis at what is, for many firms, a very busy time of year.

Managers should also think about those staff who, for whatever reasons, may not want or be able to attend. Whether they have caring commitments, live with a particularly vulnerable person or even if big parties just aren’t their thing, it’s worth considering alternative gestures to make everyone feel rewarded.

For those that do still get to party, we put together a handy reminder to help organisers prepare before the big event, because no party is complete without a bit of ABBA:

Advise all employees before any event that the normal standards of workplace behaviour and conduct are still expected, and will be enforced

Brief team leaders and managers to set a good example and ask them to keep an eye out for problematic situations before they escalate

Be moderate with the booze. A free bar may be appreciated but it can often end in tears... or worse

Address any allegations or incidents fairly and as soon after the party as possible, following the company’s normal policies and procedures

Most employers appreciate that social events can increase the risk of personnel issues, such as misconduct and harassment, and that their duties of care to staff continue, after work and off-site, at events arranged by the company.

This shouldn’t stop anyone from having fun, but a few sensible precautions can help avoid the sort of Christmas party hangover that nobody wants to face, the morning after.

All of ARAG’s legal protection policyholders have access to its legal helpline, which they can call for advice about their specific Christmas party circumstances or other legal issues.


Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.


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