OHS blamed for extinction of office Christmas parties

The office Christmas party is dying out because of fears that workers could sue over other employees’ drunken antics and a prevailing “Scrooge” mentality in Britain. A third of companies will not hold a staff party this year, twice as many as in 2002.

Sleeping on the Job

A Chartered Management Institute (CMI) survey of more than 500 British managers found that mThe Endore than half believe the atmosphere at end-of-year celebrations is “forced”.

A fifth feel Christmas celebrations are “a chore” and one in three claims there is too much “political correctness”.

While 52 per cent of those surveyed said Christmas parties improved the working environment, only three in 10 organisations actively promote a relaxed atmosphere as Dec 25 approaches.

Some managers blamed new discrimination legislation and the compensation culture for the lack of Christmas spirit. Employers can now be held liable if they fail to protect staff from harassment or discrimination, including on the grounds of religious belief.

Companies are also advised to think about whether they have the correct insurance, and to provide transport home as they could be held liable if an employee who is drunk at the firm’s expense has a car accident.

Elizabeth Weston, from Merrill Lynch, was given £1 million in an out-of-court settlement after she claimed that a colleague made remarks about her breasts and sex life at a Christmas party. The bank did not admit liability.

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