Christmas parties – lateral flow tests and behaviour reminder

After the work Christmas party was ruled out last year (with Downing Street apparently a possible exception), many organisations are again venturing out for a Christmas meal and social event.

Clearly with covid still with us, this year’s work Christmas party will likely not be quite the same as other years with many organisations choosing either not to go out at all or to go out in smaller groups. Many employees are keen to go to a work Christmas party and some probably feel uncomfortable. It should go without saying that no-one should feel pressured by colleagues or managers to attend a work Christmas meal.

We’ve had a few queries asking if employers can ask employees to take lateral flow tests before the work Christmas social event to boost the confidence of those in attendance. Our advice on this has been that it’s fine to suggest this to employees and that many will take a test out of a sense of responsibility to colleagues. However, we would suggest that employers stop short of making taking lateral flow tests a pre-condition of attendance and they should trust employees not to come if they test positive, rather than insisting on employees sharing their results.

It would be helpful to consult with the venue around their covid protocols before attending. The rules are slightly different in terms of what is required and what is currently being enforced in the various jurisdictions across the UK and Ireland. Some venues may be checking the covid status of guests while others may not be. It would be helpful to let your employees know what to expect from the venue before they attend.

Finally, one thing that hasn’t changed but is worth reminding employees about is that the work Christmas social event is an extension of the workplace. Employees should treat colleagues with the same dignity and respect at the Christmas party as they would in the workplace. Any acts of harassment at the work Christmas party can land both the employer and the employee in trouble. Employers may wish to consider issuing a memo reminding staff that their conduct towards each other must remain respectful while at the Christmas party.


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