Bosses and workers in South Yorkshire are being urged to enjoy the festivities – but not let their hair down too much.
The warning comes from Barnsley solicitors Raleys who say it is not unknown for incidents at Christmas parties to end up in court.
Marianne Haworth, head of employment at Raleys, said: “I have come across cases including a woman who was awarded £10,000 after a colleague sexually harassed her at a party and colleagues fighting after seven hours drinking at a free bar.
“I don’t want to be ‘bah humbug’ about Christmas dos, but you have to remember that the office party is legally an extension of the office environment, even if it is off-site and outside working hours.”
Bosses need to make sure staff are clear about what behaviour is acceptable and what isn’t, said Marianne. However, managers have to watch their behaviour too, by, for example, not talking about promotion or salaries at a party.
It should also be made clear that attending the office party is not compulsory and no one will be discriminated against for not going.
“Most of it is common sense,” said Marianne. “Parties are great for staff morale and often an important date in the works’ calendar, but they can be a minefield too; so need to be well organised.”