Conduct at work-related events

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Gateley Legal

Conduct at work functions is always one that can cause contention. Read our festive scenario relating to the potential problems associated with conduct at work related events.

A festive scenario:

It was a cold frosty December night at the North Pole. Santa and his elves were having their Christmas party. Mrs Claus had baked fresh cookies, the elves had downed tools for the night and everyone was in the party mood. There was a free bar serving candy canes and maple syrup. All was going well until a few of the elves had eaten a little too much sugar! 

Two of the bigger elves started to argue about which elf-made toy was the best this year. This resulted in one of the elves hitting the other on top of the head with a candy cane. One of the younger elves surprised another elf when he grabbed her under the mistletoe. A group of other elves decided it would be funny to decorate Rudolph with tinsel and upload photos on to Elfbook.

Santa could not believe his eyes as he stood witnessing the chaos. Did he do enough to encourage his elves to behave responsibly? What should he do now? Can Christmas be saved?

So many questions but one thing for certain is that these elves will all end up on Santa’s naughty list!

Here are our top tips of how to prevent problematic situations at your workplace party or work-related events:

Top tips for employers

  1. Be aware that employers can be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees if a social event is considered to be an extension of employment and the actions are deemed to have been committed in the course of employment.
  2. Have clear written policies in place on the standards of behaviour expected at work related social events and also in relation to social media. The behaviour policy should specify what kind of behaviour is acceptable and what behaviour could result in disciplinary action being taken including examples of gross misconduct. The social media policy should prohibit the placing of material on social media sites which would adversely affect the employer’s reputation.
  3. In advance of the party or event, take all reasonable steps to encourage employees to behave responsibly whilst at work-related events by reminding them of your behaviour policy and social media policy. In the absence of such policies, you could issue a written statement to set out the standards of behaviour expected. 
  4. Consider what the focus of the party should be - an event focused around alcohol will not appeal to everyone. If there is alcohol involved, encourage employees to drink responsibly. 
  5. If an employee does misbehave, do not discipline them at the party or event. Instead, send them home if necessary and deal with the incident as soon as possible once you are back in the workplace by carrying out an investigation in accordance with your disciplinary policy. If there is a disciplinary case to answer, this should be dealt with appropriately.

Gateley Plc is authorised and regulated by the SRA (Solicitors' Regulation Authority). Please visit the SRA website for details of the professional conduct rules which Gateley Legal must comply with.

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