Employment law – what are my rights if I’m sacked after the office party?

10th Dec 2019
Lisa Boyle

Employment law – what are my rights if I’m sacked after the office party?

It’s that time of the year again where everyone is looking forward to an office party or a work night out.

Time to let your hair down, enjoy a few drinks and celebrate all the hard work you’ve put in over the last year.

It’s all fun and games, until you have had too much to drink, punch a colleague, or tell your boss what you really think of them!

At a work night out, you are still technically on “company time” and anything that you do is done in the course of your employment.

 

It’s one thing going into work after a night out and wondering if everyone is going to be talking about your dodgy dancing and drunk chat, however it is quite another when you find out you are going to be disciplined or sacked.

So what if you do something silly on your Christmas work bash. Do you have a leg to stand on?

 

Here are some drunken antics that probably won’t get you sacked:

 

  • Getting drunk and falling asleep in a cupboard
  • Asking whether you are going to get a promotion or pay rise

 

But then there’s the behaviours that could see you being dismissed by your employer. These are:

 

  • Acts of violence – sometimes employees with impeccable employment records, who show no sign of aggression at work can become violent after drinking. Likely to be classed as gross misconduct.
  • Serious health and safety violation – leaving the office party drunk and forgetting to lock up could result in disciplinary action, or dismissal.
  • Anything illegal – it should go without saying that staff should not bring recreational drugs to a works night out, however in a relaxed setting away from the constraints of work some people forget this. This is likely to lead to instant dismissal.
  • Incapacity – coming into work drunk from the night before could lead to dismissal, especially, if your job required you to drive or operate machinery.
  • Sneaking a consensual kiss under the mistletoe is fine, but groping and unwanted touching could be classed as sexual harassment. This could not only lead to criminal charges, but will probably get you sacked.

 

Priya Cunningham, an employment specialist at Watermans Solicitors, said: “The employer needs to bear in mind reputational damage to their business when considering an employee’s conduct on a night out.

“Bosses are also vicariously liable for their employees’ actions. If an employee assaults someone on a night out, leaving them with a life changing injury – such as brain damage – the employer may also be liable for their actions.

“It’s important to get advice from our employment law specialist if you’re facing the sack after your Christmas work doo.

“Contact Watermans for free legal advice.”