Post Christmas Party Assault
- The assault was committed after and not during the organised work-social event.
- The fact that the conversation had turned to work did not transform what was clearly a recreational activity into something properly viewed as in the course of employment.
- The assault arose in the context of entirely voluntary and personal choices by those present to engage in an impromptu heavy early-hours drinking session not seen as a seamless extension of the Christmas party.
- The drinks were separate from the Christmas party itself and at a separate location.
- That whilst there were employees’ partners there, other guests were present as well.
- The conversation had been largely on non-work related topics.
- Whilst the Company was expected to pay for some or all of the drinks and a work-related discussion triggered the attack, in which the managing director felt that there was a challenge to his authority, these factors did not outweigh the other factors and bring the encounter within the course of his employment.
- The High Court found that the mere fact that the assault had followed a discussion of work matters did not mean that it was necessarily ‘in the course of employment.’
Christmas Party Practical advice and tips
- Prior to the Christmas party you should send out a warning and reminder that the Christmas party is a work activity and an extension of work time;
- If an incident does occur at the Christmas party, you need to decide whether you need to suspend the individuals involved;
- You need to conduct an investigation as soon as possible and interview those who witnessed the incident;
- If you determine that there is a disciplinary case to answer, then you need to invite the employee(s) to a disciplinary hearing to discuss the evidence against them;
- Once you have gone through the evidence, give them an opportunity to respond to the evidence against them. Listen to any mitigating circumstances then you need to determine the outcome of the disciplinary hearing;
- You should write to them to confirm the outcome of the disciplinary hearing and offer the right to appeal.
Are your managers equipped to handle investigations and disciplinaries?
We can train your managers on how to handle investigations or disciplinary and we can do it for you on your premises. Please do not hesitate to contact us today if this interests you.