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Legal advice for surviving the Christmas party

The Christmas staff outing is an annual event full of cringeworthy stories of co-workers cuddling up under the mistletoe and dodgy dance moves that go down in company gossip history.

But sometimes a Christmas party can turn sour. Free flowing alcohol can lead to bad behaviour.

While the Christmas is a time for celebration and cheer, the staff party comes with risks such as sexual harassment, alcohol-fuelled brawls, religious discrimination and post-party absenteeism.

‘Black Eye Friday’ is the most popular night of the year for office parties and one of the busiest nights for bars.

Despite its festive atmosphere, an office Christmas party is legally an extension of the office environment even if it is held off-site and outside working hours. Employers are therefore likely to remain liable for acts of harassment, discrimination, assault or other unwanted conduct carried out by their employees.

If any such allegations are made during or after the event, employers should follow their usual disciplinary process and ensure that any complaint is investigated thoroughly before action is taken.

Remember, an employee can legally be fired for bad behaviour at a Christmas party because it is seen as ‘work context’. This means an employer can take disciplinary action against any employer who misconducts during an employer-organised event.

Alcohol can loosen tongues so avoid over indulging and stay clear of shop talk, especially conversations about performance, promotion, salary or career prospects.


All at McGale Kelly would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and happy new year.

If you need any legal advice over the Christmas period please give us a call on 028 8224 3621 or email: info@mcgalekelly.co.uk

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