HR Doctor - “Aftermath of Christmas Parties”
Christmas is all over and we are in officially the most depressing
month of the year. I read somewhere that January 20th is the worst
day of the year for sickness!
Anyway back to Christmas and despite some careful planning that
I hoped would see me be able to relax and enjoy Christmas and not
have to do any work at all during the holidays. All that was spoilt
by the festive spirit! Here is what happened with the stories
changed to protect confidentiality.
Spirit number one
An argument between two senior managers which ended up with one of
them jumping on the other manager's car roof.
The sorry scenario began with the decision to have a quick drink
before going home. The quick drink turned out to be a 5 hour
session at which various people came and went but four people
stayed throughout. A number of disagreements took place with raised
voices but were mainly calmed down by colleagues. One Senior
Manager arrived late as he had thought that people were going home
first. Because he had to visit other places he came in his car.
After a little while he was concerned about the 'debate' that was
going on and suggested that it was time to go. This was at first
ignored but eventually he got everybody outside to the car park. He
insisted that employee X was not fit to drive but X disagreed,
which led to an argument between them. X was told to get in his car
and he would take him home. X motioned to get in the car but
instead jumped on the bonnet and then the roof. This was done in
front of 3 other employees. Needless to say the Senior Manager was
not pleased and rushed to drag X off. His colleagues restrained him
and X got off the car. The Director drove off and the employees
left, including X who got a taxi home.
All the staff in the pub were boisterous but the pub was packed
and no one thought that anyone had said or done anything that would
have given anyone else in the pub cause to complain. Some heated
arguments about work had happened during the night but no one
complained. Damage to the car was estimated at £600. The car was a
company car but used exclusively by the Senior Manager. X was also
a Senior Manager and would be very difficult to replace.
What would you do?
- Do nothing?
- Ask X to pay for the damage to the car?
- Disciplinary action?
Spirit number two
The police are involved following a fight which an employee tries
to stop and ends up with a broken arm.
The standard Christmas party at a hotel with lots of other
companies in attendance. The company had 4 tables at the party. The
party started at 8pm and it was clear on arriving at the party that
several people had been drinking heavily prior to arriving. About
10pm whilst dancing, employee V cut in on employee Z. Z did not
like this and pushed V away. V responded by throwing a punch.
Before the security could intervene, a colleague stepped in and
tried to part the fighting employees. He was pushed to the ground.
The fight was broken up and both V and Z were told to go home.
The following morning it emerged that the colleague who had
intervened had broken their arm. This had either happened as he
fell to the floor or as he claimed that V had kicked him as he was
on the ground. He has reported the matter to the police.
V and Z are okay with everything and working together as if
nothing had happened. The employee with a broken arm has phoned in
explained what happened and said he would be on the sick for 6 to 8
What would you do?
- Nothing, but not have a party next year?
- Discipline and sack both V and Z
Spirit number three
A claim of sexual harassment is made against an employee
following a group of workers who decided to have a few drinks after
A group of 6 employees decide to go for a drink straight after
work before going home. It was a not a regular event but happened
occasionally if some one had something to celebrate. On getting to
the pub the group were joined by another three people who were
mutual friends and worked at a company close by.
During the evening, a male employee made a 'pass' at a female
employee. She politely refused. After a few more drinks he followed
the female employee to the bar and this time held up some mistletoe
and tried to kiss the female. She turned so that the kiss was on
her cheek and again said she was not interested in him. More drinks
and now he grabs her and kisses her. She pushes him away and his
friend intervenes and drags him away. The group eventually split up
and they all go home.
The following morning, the female goes to see her boss and
complains about the behaviour of her male colleague. Her boss says
that he would look into it and questions the people who were there
who all say that it was 'just a bit of fun'.
Both employees work in the same department but not in the same
team. The male employee is a team leader.
What would you do?
- Tell him off?
- Suspend both employees?
- Carry out an investigation?
- As it happened out of work at an unofficial event, does it
involve the company?
The outcomes to each will be in the
next edition. I would be interested to know your views about
what should happen in each scenario. Please email me your thoughts