Festive finances | Half of firms are concerned that employees won't be able to afford Christmas party

Half of firms are concerned that employees won't be able to afford Christmas party

Half of businesses who are planning a Christmas, festive or end-of-year party are concerned about employees not being able to afford to attend due to cost -of-living constraints, according to research by employment law and HR consultancy firm, WorkNest.

For some businesses however, this won’t be a concern as 47% aren’t having an end-of-year celebration or Christmas party. 

The survey of employers found that two in ten businesses who are celebrating the festive period and end of 2023, also have worries about employees drinking around non-drinking employees.

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Jo Chambers, HR Consultancy Operations Director at WorkNest, said: “End of year parties are a great way to reward employees, allow them to let off steam and have teams socialise together to build good relations. However they also carry risks that need to be managed. Risks include improper conduct, managing various views on alcohol consumption and inappropriate sexual advances.

“Whilst many of us are aware of the risks associated with work events, a large proportion of businesses (67%) don’t have a policy or any guidance in place relating to expected behaviour at work events that they circulate beforehand. Doing this however, could very easily help minimise any issues arising that could carry significant consequences for a company. It’s highly recommended that some form of guidance is created and communicated to staff in advance.”

Nearly one third (31%) of businesses would consider having an alcohol-free event, and five percent are having one, but the majority (63%) would choose to keep alcohol as an option, despite 16% saying they do have concerns about employees drinking around non-drinking employees. 

Jo added: “From colleagues who don’t know their limits to unintentionally excluding those who don’t drink, the inclusion of alcohol at work events presents a multitude of considerations. 

“Certain faiths forbid or advise against alcohol consumption and, as ‘religion and belief’ is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, failing to cater for these employees can trigger claims of religious discrimination, encompassing both direct and indirect discrimination.

“We’d always recommend setting limits on the amount of alcohol served. This includes evaluating whether an open bar is the best choice. 

“If you strike the right balance though there is no need to have specific alcohol-free events.”

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