The Office Christmas Party and Employment Law

Employment Law by Sara Devennie

Christmas is coming and so too is the highlight of the office social calendar – the Christmas party. Whilst it may be the season to be jolly, festive highjinks can land you in receipt of a very much unwanted gift – your P45!

So what are the ‘rules’ at the Christmas party?

Many people wrongly believe that because the office party takes place outside of working hours or off company premises that they cannot be disciplined for anything that happens at the party. However, as at any time of year, your actions outside the workplace can impact on your employment. For example, if you lose your driving licence and this is a requirement for work, or if you are involved in certain types of conduct this may affect your suitability for certain roles. Whilst you may be required to disclose such instances to your employer at any time of year, at the Christmas party they will be there to witness your actions in glorious technicolour and so there will be no avoiding the consequences at work.

You should also remember that, whilst the office may be closed, at the Christmas party you are still a representative of your workplace and so you may find yourself on the receiving end of a disciplinary hearing if you are involved in any actions which may bring your employer into disrepute. You should also watch your behaviour generally to make sure you do not fall foul of discrimination laws.

So as a rule of thumb – if you would not do it in the office generally, then do not let yourself be carried away by the festivities. Remember, employment law applies all year round – not just at Christmas!

If you have any questions about your employment rights, then we can help. Here at Beecham Peacock we have a trusted relationship with some of the largest trade unions in the country to protect your working rights. For further information call us on 0191 232 3048 or email

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