When workplace Christmas parties go wrong…

Thursday December 22, 2022

‘Twas the day post-Christmas party, when all through the workplace

SME owners were hoping they weren’t in a bad place!

The HR Dept team can handle almost anything,

Especially if your Christmas party was particularly damaging!

Many employees do look forward to their annual workplace Christmas parties. However, sometimes festive gatherings can cause headaches for business owners as well as their staff.

We are on hand to help, but hope yours does not end up like any of these…

All I want for Christmas is the loo

Just two months into his employment, a trainee in a firm of chartered accountants attended his Christmas party.

As soon as he arrived, he went to the bathroom and was surprised that there was no urinal. Regardless, he carried on but when he tried to leave the cubicle, the lock had seized. He was stuck.

Noticing a small space above the door, he started climbing. He was halfway out when a woman walked in.

To his horror, he realised he was in the ladies’ loos and had locked the only toilet for the party from the inside.

He rushed to take his seat and hoped that he would never see this woman again. However, when she came out of the toilet, she sat directly across the table from him.

She turned out to be the director’s wife!

Gin-gle bells

After one too many drinks, one employee moved on to shots – which quickly tipped her over the edge. Taking to the dancefloor, she started to feel peculiar.

Trying to run to the bathroom she lost her balance, and worse, threw up over a pair of shoes… which happened to be connected to her boss!

He told her to clean herself up and go home. When returning to work after the weekend, he called her into his office. She was employed on a zero-hour contract, and the end result was that she was no longer offered any work.

It’s not the most wonderful time of the year

Talk of killing the mood! Before one company Christmas party, employees were sent a stern letter saying that if they did not make up the time that they spent at the party, then they were at risk of being fired.

As if that was not enough, the budget for the party was then cut and everyone was told to bring their own food.

Not the greatest way to boost company morale at Christmas! Ba humbug!


And here are two incidents that led to employment tribunals…


Fairy tale of London Zoo

The Employment Appeal Tribunal reported a case a few years ago (Westlake v ZSL London Zoo) which involved two female zookeepers. They had engaged in a physical fight over a male zookeeper at their Christmas party.

It was not ascertained who the aggressor was, but only one woman was dismissed. She claimed that she had been unfairly treated in comparison to her foe.

The tribunal agreed and upheld her complaint of unfair dismissal. They did, however, decline to offer her any compensation.

Fightin’ around the Christmas tree

In the case of Bhara v Ikea Ltd, Mr Bhara was attending a workplace Christmas party and began drinking at 10pm.

At 11:30pm, Mr Bhara reminded a colleague that he was working the next day and should be careful not to drink too much.

His colleague reacted angrily, and a “tussle” occurred between the two workers.

Mr Bhara was dismissed due to acts of “physical assault” and claimed unfair dismissal at an Employment Tribunal.

The tribunal refused his claim as Ikea were able to prove that a thorough investigation had been carried out, and ultimately concluded that fighting was a “matter of utmost seriousness”.

HR support when you need it

If your Christmas party has gone awry, we can help you reign things back in.

For help, guidance and advice through the holiday season and beyond, get in touch with your local HR Dept.

Preventing People Problems

Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

Office Address: CENTRAL OFFICE, The HR Dept International. Ltd, First Floor, 3 Brook Office Park, Emersons Green, Bristol, BS16 7FL | VAT Number: 280296590 | Registration Number: 10060441

Copyright © 2007 - 2022 The HR Dept Ltd. HR DEPT is a registered trademark belonging to The HR Dept Limited.