Is there legislation in place to ban Christmas parties?

Most organisations which plan to have an employee’s Christmas party will by now have everything booked and probably confirming final numbers with the venues. But we all know that Christmas parties in 2020 will be different – if they go ahead at all.

Why is the Christmas party so important?

It’s often a way to celebrate the success of the company throughout the year and to reward employees for all their efforts and hard work. Coinciding with the Christmas Bank holidays, it’s also well timed with the end of the year and a much-needed break from work. The signal to recharge the batteries!

Is there legislation in place to ban Christmas parties?

No there isn’t legislation to ban Christmas parties in totality BUT there is legislation in place in regards to social distancing and covid safety measures. This is where the Christmas parties in 2020 will start to look different.

The government announced a covid tier system back in October, but let’s put that aside for one moment. The core rules currently operating in England state that gatherings of more than six people are illegal (indoors or outdoors) and there is a 10pm curfew for hospitality venues. There is an exception to the rule of six if the gathering is for work – but let’s be honest, the Christmas party is more of a social gathering.

The three-tier ‘traffic light’ system will add further rules to consider if the area you live in is classified as Tier 2 (high level) or tier 3 (very high level). Tier 2 prevents the mixing of households indoors and Tier 3 actually closes the majority of hospitality venues altogether.

Should employers cancel any plans for a Christmas party?

This is obviously a decision to be made by the employer but we highly recommend that employers and employees have a discussion about whether they would like to consider an alternative Christmas party or postpone for another time.

Employers also need to consider the safety of their staff and how potential gatherings (within the current government guidelines) should be kept within any ‘social bubbles’ they have in operation.

What if I don’t want to go to my Christmas party?

Employers should not make any Christmas party attendance compulsory. If you would prefer not to attend, then this is your right and you cannot be discriminated against for this reason.

We would like a Christmas party within the government guidelines – what can we do?

Here’s our suggestions for some Christmas party alternatives!

  • Fancy dress video call

Set a theme and have either a work meeting or a relaxed social virtually via a video call (like Zoom or Teams) with everyone in fancy dress! You could even share some prizes for the best efforts.

  • Virtual Quiz

At the start of lockdown, the virtual quiz was a saviour! As lockdown eased and more of us went back to work, quizzes became less popular. So, although you may be feeling a bit quizzed out, it’s a great way to have a relaxed time with colleagues. And if you start planning now perhaps everyone can chip in with some great questions! Or you can Google some by theme…!

  • Virtual murder mystery

There are a number of companies which host virtual murder mysteries. You can have one hosted just for your team. Why not give 100% effort and ask your staff to dress up as one of the characters? This is a great idea where you don’t really need to plan anything other than the date and time!

  • Online wine/cheese tasting

Another popular virtual trend has been for wine and cheese tasting (or any other favourite tipple). You could either organise this yourself if you have any wine buffs in your team, or perhaps speak with a local wine retailer to organise a package. Obviously you do need to consider if a Christmas party solely based on alcohol is appropriate for your team, and inclusive.

  • Online pamper packages

A non-alcohol alternative could be a virtual pamper evening. This is where a local beauty retailer packages up some pampering goodies and the team join a video call to be talked through how to apply the products. It might not be a spa but it could be a fun and relaxed evening.

  • Host smaller Christmas parties or donate towards individual celebrations

If you have a large team then this may get a bit more complicated. Obviously the rule of six means gatherings are limited to six team members at a time. You may think that it works to have groups of six enjoy a Christmas party together. Or, cutting the numbers back even further, you may wish to suggest that team members enjoy a Christmas party with their partner, partly funded by the Christmas party budget. This obviously takes away the part of socialising with colleagues but it may be a safer alternative.

  • Donate money to charity

If you have budgeted for the Christmas party but think it’s best not to host one, you may be considering ways of helping those who are less fortunate. Ask your staff for their ideas on where the money could be donated.

  • Bank it for when times are better

Our final idea is putting the Christmas party budget away for when socialising is safer. Many businesses may benefit from keeping the cash within the business after what has turned out to be a very difficult year.

Do you have any ideas to share?

Head over to our social media pages where you can take part in the conversation! You may be inspired by other ideas people are sharing.

Whatever you decide, we wish you, your teams and your families well and hope that you keep safe.

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