Festive parties are a nice way to reward your employees for all their hard work throughout the year as well as a nice way to celebrate the Festive season. What happens though if the party doesn’t go quite to plan?
Simple HR received a call after one such Christmas party.
The Company arranged a party; they provided the venue, entertainment and the buffet. They also supplied bar vouchers for each employee.
As far as the Management Teamwere aware the party went well and all the employees enjoyed themselves. However, the following day, a staff member asked to speak to a member of the management team. They wanted to make a formal complaint about a colleague.
Allegedly the colleague had been assaulted by another team member towards the end of the evening. The manager was obviously concerned about the complaint and assured the other staff member it would be investigated.
The manager invited the alleged attacker to come and speak with him. The alleged attacker explained that there had been some on-going issues which were not work related and in fact the other staff member instigated the incident. The manager felt that as it was a personal issue and the incident occurred out of working hours this was not a company matter. The manager informed both of the individuals that the company would not get involved.
This was then discussed between the Management Team, some of whom were not sure that the situation had been fully resolved.
The team called one of our HR Consultants, Louise McKenna, who explained that as the party was arranged and booked on behalf of the company all contractual obligations still applied to all employees.
Louise had to consider the following:
An office party, no matter what time of year, is purely an extension of working hours and therefore all expectations still apply. There is also a responsibility on the company as they have arranged the party and also in this instance supplied alcohol that may have fuelled the argument.
It is best practise before any company “do” to remind everyone about the company’s expectations of their employees. Simple HR provides a Social EventsPolicy as a standard part of our company handbook.
In this instance, the complaint should have been dealt with as a grievance and could potentially result in formal disciplinary action.
What happened next?
The employee raised a formal grievance against their colleague.
Firstly Louise informed all relevant parties of the grievance and the steps that would be followed.
Louise arranged various witness interviews, took statements and also interviewed the alleged attacker.
After interviewing the witnesses and discussing the incident with the management team, it was established that the colleague was assaulted.
This constitutes Gross Misconduct and the colleague was dismissed.
No formal complaint was made to the police therefore no criminal action was taken.
Once the case was concluded the company reviewed custom and practice for company events and a clear protocol was put in place to ensure that the welfare of all colleagues is protected at all times.
If you would like help or advice on any of the issues covered, or just a copy of our social events policy, give us a call today.