Make sure your Christmas party doesn’t end in disaster!

With Christmas around the corner, many of us will be looking forward to (or quietly dreading!) the annual festive staff party.

Christmas Party
Christmas Party

The Christmas work do often involves plenty of alcohol - which can lead to unfortunate consequences for those who over-indulge.

John Merry, head of employment law at Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors, says employees and employers need to be mindful of their responsibilities to avoid some potentially awkward conversations when everyone is sober and back in work.

He says: “The key point is that a staff party, although usually outside working hours and away from the employer’s premises, will still be part of the ‘work environment’, which means the employer will be at risk of liability for employees’ actions.

“Over the years we have dealt with cases involving punch ups, an axe-wielding employee, and the scaling, and bringing down, of a large Christmas tree - so there is plenty of reason for employers to beware!

“It stands to reason that the more alcohol is consumed, the more chance there will be that standards of behaviour will slip. For this reason, employers might be wary of offering a free bar - but not doing so when one has been provided before can be damaging to staff relations, and the alternatives can have their own dangers.

“Some staff events with high levels of drunkenness that I am aware of have had a cash bar - which encouraged many employees to get ‘tanked up’ before their arrival.

“Similarly, a free bar for a limited time can encourage binge drinking. In contrast, a free bar, excluding shots for example, can actually result in more measured consumption.

“The most important thing is for employers to remind staff in advance of a Christmas party that they want everybody to have a good time – and as part of that, alcohol consumption will not be accepted as an excuse for misconduct.”

For more employment law advice in Shropshire, visit

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