Vicarious liability & the staff Christmas party

Behaviour at works parties is a genuine concern – tribunals have made some surprising decisions regarding what’s known as ‘vicarious liability’ over the years (see Bellman v Northampton Recruitment Ltd and Shelbourne v Cancer Research UK).

Many of us are just days away from the Christmas party. It’s been a long, tough year, and the ‘work do’ is about everyone letting off steam and celebrating.

Lots of us also have some colourful tales to tell about office parties from Christmas Past (as we discovered in our office!) …from an illicit snog under the mistletoe to one too many vodkas, dancing on the table and a sneaking feeling you might have ‘overshared’ with the boss.

But, as an employer, how liable are you if someone drinks too much, causes offence or hurts themselves on your watch?

Limit your liability – send an email today

Now is the time to send a very important email about your Christmas Party. Send it two days before your event, and it’ll be fresh in everyone’s minds.

Vicarious liability staff Christmas party

It’s not about being a Grinch. Alcohol can lead any of us into making some poor decisions. But if it breaches company policy regarding acceptable, respectful conduct, it’s not on. To protect yourself and your staff, make it clear the venue is an extension of the workplace, whether it’s Winter Wonderland or the local pub.

Vicarious liability UK – What to include in the email

In terms of managing liability, you should also distance yourself from impromptu after-parties. If people choose to carry on partying in their own time, their wellbeing is their responsibility. If you’re serving alcohol, remind people to drink and behave responsibly – which means not drinking to get drunk, not driving home (you can arrange a cab), damaging property or making unacceptable comments. And don’t be afraid to mention that the same applies to taking drugs.

Christmas party table

You don’t need to rain on the whole parade, but it’s important for you – and for your staff’s wellbeing and safety – that everyone knows the ground rules.

That way, alcohol or no alcohol, you can enjoy the night as much as everyone else.

And if you need help drafting that email we’re just a call away.

Happy Christmas! 🎄🎉