Business Continuity Expo warns over Christmas parties

I was mildly amused to hear that David Honour, editor of Continuitycentral.com, has teamed up with the organisers of the Business Continuity Expo show to produce a risk assessment checklist for managers worried about their Christmas parties.

The main risk that managers should be worried out are (it says here) centres around possible legal action by employees for a number of reasons.

Interestingly, even if the office party takes place outside of normal work hours and at a different place, staff are still protected by standard employee legislation.

High risks areas at the Christmas party, says Honour, include injuries, abuse and even death, due to alcohol and substance abuse. Oh, and we mustn’t forget issues surrounding date rape drugs, spiked drinks and other potential problems.

Because of these party pooper issues, Honour recommends that company human resource policies and handbooks address these areas, stating when - and under what circumstances - staff remain under employment conditions when away from company premises and out of office hours.

Managers, he says, should send a friendly memo around staff prior to the party reminding them of their responsibilities and of what is acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Here’s the corker though - Honour recommends that firms should conduct a formal risk assessment of the office party and document the mitigation measures that have been taken.

“If the company should face litigation following a party-related incident this will offer evidence that the company has acted responsibly and taken all reasonable measures to prevent the incident occurring,” he says.

On top of this, he recommends that Christmas parties are held off-site, as this reduces the risk of office damage.

However, he says, parties held off-site also bring the risk of damage and subsequent compensation payments.

The risk is highest where an overnight hotel stay is offered to staff who have travelled from further afield. Emptied mini-bars and trashed hotel rooms are, apparently, an expensive luxury.

All I can say is that Mr Honour must have been some bloody good parties in his time. Either that, or I’ve led a sheltered life…

Have a good weekend everyone…