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The Practice Christmas Party – Eat, Drink and Be Merry?
Now is the season to be merry, the Christmas party is a great way to boost morale by rewarding staff and giving everyone a chance to bond, but when things go wrong the repercussions can go far beyond the next-day hangover. Take care that the practice Christmas party does not leave a stain the practice’s reputation. The worst case scenario is that some of the registered team members end up in front of a GDC Panel.
Expectations of Conduct
The expectations of standards of conduct that the GDC places upon its registrants are not relaxed at Christmas, neither are employment laws which apply even when a party takes place somewhere other than in the practice. This means that employers may be liable for incidents of harassment that take place at work-related social events and could face tribunal claims.
Drink-fuelled party behaviour is the root cause of many disputes leading to feuds and rifts in the workplace. So without worrying about being seen as party-poopers, employers should provide staff with clear guidance of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour at staff social events - as well as highlighting to them the likely consequences of such behaviour.
Assessing the Risks
When selecting the venue and nature of the party it is important to give consideration to factors that could lead to problems. Although it sounds awful to even mention risk assessment in the same breath as your Christmas party, without doubt some forethought and consideration of what could go wrong at the event, can certainly be the stitch in time, that save nine.
Diversity and Inclusivity
While it's hard to stop employees over-indulging, limiting the amount of alcohol at the party, providing non-alcoholic options and supplying enough food can all help minimise the risk of employees getting drunk should be considered. It's also advisable to think carefully about making the event as inclusive as possible, so that everyone can enjoy it. This means that employers need to be sensitive to employees who don't drink alcohol, or who don't eat certain foods.
In some cases tensions that run under the surface within the team surface whilst partying and the repercussions what is said and done under the influence of alcohol that cannot easily undone.
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