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Christmas Party Season: Who is responsible for employee safety?
It’s that time of year again – The Office Christmas Party. The
Christmas Party is an important event in the employment calendar, a time for
recognition, team bonding and boosting staff morale. A time for employees to
let their hair down after twelve months of hard work however, with that being said
– where is the limit? With many Christmas parties typically involving plenty of
alcohol and likely worse, how can you ensure your employees stay safe?
Unfortunately, intoxication at the office Christmas Party has
become so normalised it is now a stereotype. Statistics show that as a result
of impairment, one in seven employees have shouted at their boss, almost one in
ten employees have ‘used a photocopier inappropriately’ and over a quarter of
employees have had to leave an office Christmas party early because they were
too drunk. Worryingly though, the most shocking statistic shows that 5% of
employees have knowingly driven over the limit at a Christmas Party.
Whilst most employers would like to believe none of their
workforce misuse drugs or alcohol, recent data shows that 74% of substance
users are in full-time employment and excessive substance consumption is exacerbated
during the festive period. In addition, you’re three times more likely to be breathalysed
in December than any other month and currently, across the UK, Operation Limit –
the Police Christmas Drink and Drug driving campaign is in full swing. Over the
last three weeks Merseyside Police alone have arrested 143 people for drug
driving and 57 people for drink driving, an average of 13 arrests per day.
So how can you keep your employees safe?
As an employer there are many things you can do to keep your
employees safe during this festive period. We’re not implying you need to be a
scrooge and stop all the festive fun, in fact far from it – we can’t wait for
our office Christmas party! However, it’s critical that your employees are
aware of the effects on themselves when consuming substances and specifically
the consequences of getting behind the wheel whilst impaired. The festive season
is the perfect opportunity to offer toolbox talks and share educational
resources with your workforce, encouraging staff members to ‘understand their
When sending out invitations to your Christmas party, avoid the potential
risk of anyone driving whilst impaired, and set an end time for the event,
allowing employees to arrange lifts, taxis or ubers in advance. In addition, include
details of the local taxi firm, nearest train station and train times or pre-book
minibuses for your workforce (this is particularly important if your venue is
remote or not serviced by public transport).
Ensure your policies are up to date and there is no ambiguity
amongst employees, Christmas is not a time to stop random testing but your
employees need to be aware of this so there is an active deterrent. Set
expectations around behaviour, employees should feel free to enjoy themselves,
recognising that it shouldn’t impact their work the following day. In addition,
provide food and ensure that soft drinks are freely available throughout the