One important factor will be the timing of the party. If it is during the working week and you’re expecting your employees to come to work bright eyed and bushy tailed the next day, first of all you need to lower your expectations!
If the party was less of a sober affair and carried on well into the night, not only might there be some sore heads turning up at the workplace the next day, but they may well still be over the drink/drive limit. Depending on the organisation, this could have massive consequences, especially if heavy machinery is involved, as it may well be the case that your employees are not fit to operate it.
Employers have a duty to provide a safe work environment, so letting an employee stay on the premises who is not fit to be there, could be in breach of this obligation.
Employers should make employees aware of any drug and alcohol policies that are in place and highlight the fact that being under the influence whilst at work could lead to disciplinary action.
The employment contracts may allow employers to carry out alcohol/substance tests, and if so, it might be advisable to carry out tests on those who are required to be under a certain limit to perform their role. If this is your intention, then you should warn staff of this fact in advance of the party so that they can make an informed decision over their level of consumption!
Of course, getting to work in the first place could also be a problem! If you believe that an employee is still over the limit from the night before and cannot remain on the premises, you should assess the situation, speak to the employee and decide whether they need to be sent home. It goes without saying that you should not allow them to drive home if there is any question as to their intoxication. Rather, arrange for them to get a lift or order them a taxi to ensure they don’t drive.
As mentioned in the Christmas Parties article, employers should ensure that they deal with any repercussions resulting from the party swiftly. The longer an issue is left for, the longer it can fester and the harder it can be to resolve.
Whilst employees are entitled to take sick leave if they are not fit for work, the lines can become blurred if it is due to overindulgence from the party the night before. It might be a good idea to let employees know prior to the party that any absence due to overindulgence or because they are not fit to work the following day could result in disciplinary action being taken.
Employers should take care to ensure that they treat staff consistently – if more senior employees are allowed to come in late or not at all, then allegations of bias or discrimination could arise if juniors are not treated in the same way.
Don’t forget, an employee may genuinely be ill the following day, so don’t assume that it’s because of a hangover!
Whilst it might not be appropriate for all employers, some may want to put together an “emergency” ration pack for the following day – most employees would appreciate a bottle of water and chocolate bar to help motivate them the next day!
Of course, not every “gift” has to be a financial burden. Those that might be nursing a slightly sore head or want to catch up on the gossip from the previous night, would surely appreciate an extra break during the day!
If you would like any advice on how best to handle the Christmas party aftermath or would like us to review any absence or substance misuse policies, please get in touch with a member of the team on 01752 663295.