Office parties are not just limited to the festive season and many employers enjoy holding summer parties for their employees too.
Generally when the sun is shining, so are the people. Organising an office party or summer event is a great way for staff to bond and to keep spirits high. However, it is important to plan ahead to minimise any HR related issues that may arise as a direct result from summer work parties.
With a little careful planning and forethought, it is possible to minimise the risks.
The following advice is worth bearing in mind for any kind of work-related social gathering:
- Be sure to invite everyone. Remember to include temporary workers, part-time workers and those currently on maternity, paternity and sick leave. This will avoid any potential claims of discrimination.
- Think about the catering arrangements. It is important to have food and drink available to suit everyone so make sure that there are suitable alternatives for those who do not eat particular foods or who do not wish to drink alcohol. It may be helpful to ask for staff to inform you beforehand of any special dietary requirements.
- If you are holding a party off-site and you employ people under the age of 18, remember the venue considered will need to allow under 18’s on the premises.
- Make it clear to employees under the age of 18 that they will not be allowed to drink alcohol.
- Manage the provision of alcohol carefully. It is advised not to provide copious amounts of free alcohol or to put a tab behind the bar. As nice as that is, it will encourage increased drinking.
- Ensure staff have made suitable arrangements to get home, especially if they want to drink. Consider whether it would be worth organising a mini bus to and from the venue as a good-will gesture. Alternatively, hold the event in an accessible venue within the operating hours of public transport. As the employer, you have a responsibility to prevent drink-driving. Additionally, warn your employees about the dangers of driving the day after the party.
- If an employee becomes intoxicated, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that the employee is taken home safely.
- Carry out a review of your bullying, harassment and discrimination policies and remind staff of the expected standards of behaviour. A work party is an extension of work, even if held off-site and therefore, the same rules apply as within the workplace. Staff should also be made aware that disciplinary action can be taken for incidents which occur in the beer garden beforehand or in the hotel bar after the party.
- You should follow your normal absence procedure in relation to those employees who fail to turn into work the day after the party.
Most importantly, try to enjoy yourself.