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Following recent revelations about sexual harassment, the TUC has today (Friday) called on employers to be extra vigilant during the office Christmas party season.

Many people look forward to their Christmas bash as a chance to relax and unwind with their colleagues. But 1 in 7 victims of sexual harassment say it took place at a work social event, according to TUC polling. And this number rises to 1 in 5 for women employed by small businesses.

To ensure the Christmas party goes as smoothly as possible, the TUC suggests that bosses:

  1. Send an email to staff in advance of the party about the standard of behaviour that is expected of them. Remind them the party is still a work setting so normal company rules on behaviour will apply.
  2. Make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available for people who don’t drink, and for those wanting a break from the booze.
  3. Look into travel arrangements so that everyone gets home safely. You might want to think about laying on transport home or providing phone numbers for reputable cab companies.
  4. Treat any complaints following the Christmas party seriously and take action immediately, carrying out a full investigation if necessary.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Many of us look forward to the traditional work Christmas party as a chance to wind down and celebrate with colleagues.

“But workers and bosses should remember that they are still in a work setting. Nobody wants to offend another member of staff – or worse do something that might get them sacked just before Christmas.

“Employers must be clear they have a zero-tolerance attitude to sexual harassment and treat any complaint seriously. Anyone worried about inappropriate sexual harassment at work should join a union to make sure they are protected and respected at work.

“I hope everyone uses their common sense and has a happy evening – and a great Christmas and New Year.”

TUC polling last Christmas found that:

  • One in four (25%) people had drunk too much alcohol at their work Christmas party
  • One in 14 (7%) had embarrassed themselves in front of their colleagues or their boss
  • One in 14 (7%) had been sick at their party.
Editors note

- A TUC report, Still just a bit of banter?, published in August 2016 found that more than half (52%) of women, and nearly two-thirds (63%) of women aged 18-24 years old, had experienced sexual harassment at work.

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