Christmas Party Season: Who is responsible for employee safety?

Christmas Party Season: Who is responsible for employee safety?

Published: 09/12/2022

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 limits’.  

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 event.  

As an employer, HSE advise that you have a legal, social and moral duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of your employees and other individuals who may be affected by your work activities, this includes ensuring your workforce are not impaired when behind the wheel. Impaired drivers pose a danger to themselves, other employees, innocent road users and the organisation as a whole. We understand that ultimately, the responsibility is with the individual to keep themselves safe however, as an employer you must do whatever is reasonably practicable to achieve this.


If you need any support or have any questions regarding drug and alcohol screening over the festive period, please get in touch with us today, we are here to help. 

Tags: Christmas Party, Drugs and Alcohol, Employee Safety

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