Posted by Paul Cherpeau

Chief Executive

Fri 23rd, Nov

This week I added the Chamber’s support for the proposals for Everton Football Club’s new stadium at the Bramley-Moore Dock.

The past two decades have witnessed several ambitious schemes that were considered either risky, challenging or undeliverable. Yet the subsequent impact of Liverpool ONE, the Arena & Convention Centre, Liverpool 2 were such that we now cannot imagine a 21st century Liverpool without them.

In this spirit, Everton’s new stadium would represent an outstanding addition to our asset base, strengthening with tangible bricks and mortar the requirement that our city remains an epicentre of football excellence. The subsequent job creation, regeneration and overall economic impact would be plentiful as would the impact of the Goodison Legacy project, an initiative that should not be overlooked amidst the focus on a shiny new stadium.

I hope that the development of the new stadium will enable great supply chain opportunities for our local businesses, both during the construction phase and once operational, and will be sympathetic with the world heritage status that our waterfront possesses. In this instance, both are mutually compatible.

I hope readers share the sentiments that are expressed in the jointly-signed letter and the development of the Everton FC development becomes a reality in the near future.

Leave a comment

Terry Shelbourne, Owner and Principal Advisor, Choice Benefits

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 23rd, Nov

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Terry Shelbourne, Owner and Principal Advisor, Choice Benefits.

Choice Benefits is an independent insurance broker, specialising in health and wellbeing cover, because that’s where our key experiences rests. After 35 years of dealing with health like I have, you get a real sense of empathy towards people - strangers or otherwise - and couple that with my years at BUPA and heading up SME business at another brokerage, I could tell there was opportunity for a tailor-made brokerage within health and protection insurance.

The great thing about working for a company that you built yourself is that you can set the tone, and make the rules around how you work. And that’s what I love, because I like to be able to bend over backwards for our clients and give them the deal that works for them. Flexibility is really important to us. Not a lot of people know this, but if a key leader within a small business falls seriously ill, statistically, the business will fail within 6 months. Our flexibility means that we can help clients move fast to make short-and-medium term decisions to keep that business trading. And it’s that flexibility that I love offering.

What changes would you like to be leading in your market?

I touched on it a little earlier but our ability to mould our services to suit clients both old and new is something I would love to be reflected in the industry. It’s important that when an individual or business comes to us, they get the best deal they can get, with the cover that they need, which is sometimes not what they think it is. There’s some businesses in the market who are a little more rigid in how they work with SMEs, but our policy couldn’t be further away from ‘one size fits all’, and we’d love this attitude to become the norm in our industry, but until then, Choice Benefits see it as our core USP.

What does your typical working day look like?

The great thing about this business is that while the day may look typical on the surface, in reality it’s really very varied. My three key priorities are client troubleshooting, winning new business and keeping up-to-date with trends and new learning within healthcare and protection in general. Without these things, we can’t be at our peak.

I love speaking to my current clients and new because I’m a people person, and without actually talking to these folk you’re working on behalf of, you can’t get a gist for them and what they value. It seems really simple but talking and listening and taking in what your customers are saying is the best thing you can do as a service provider.

What do you do on your day off?

Although I’ve always got to keep my head somewhat in the game, I’m a big advocate for actually taking time away and having a few hours of peace and quiet. I love outdoor sports, so if I can spend a morning walking or cycling with my kids then that’s quite alright with me! Often though that’s just not possible, so staying a little closer to home and taking in some live music is the next thing I try and do. I’m a Liverpool-born lad and it’s great to see more live tours coming to the city. If anyone has any recommendations, drop me a line!

What advice would you give your teenage self?

My favourite piece of advice actually came to me when I was a teenager, from the father of a good friend. I’ve used it ever since “If the circumstances don’t suit you. Change them” This applies to everything I do, and I have even used it in business for the benefit of all my clients. It sounds so simple yet people often do nothing when something is less than ideal for them or their clients.

Who is your role model in business?

There is a whole bunch of people that I look up to in business, all for different reasons. I respect anyone with the get-up-and-go to make something for themselves, for a starter. The more small businesses we can see growing to reflect decent people making decent decisions the better.

In terms of specifics, I really like Lawrence Kenwright. Lawrence is a Liverpool hotel/property operator and director that I’m always interested to hear about. He’s a local guy who has become really successful but still made time to build his business in what I believe to be the right way.  He’s just a decent person who hasn’t forgotten his respect for others, be them more or less fortunate.

Leave a comment

Posted by Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

Tue 20th, Nov

I’m always struck by how serious the after effects of cybercrime can be, for businesses and individuals alike. Just one successful phishing attack, or an innocent-sounding conversation with a conman, and the result of years of hard work and sacrifice can all be undone in a few minutes.

When I hear these stories, I reflect on what the consequences could be for my business, my family, my colleagues and our clients too. Data theft is growing rapidly in volume and sophistication, with hackers increasingly adept at creating believable phishing emails and impersonating trusted organisations like banks (called social engineering), to trick people into revealing email addresses, usernames and passwords. And with the growth in cloud-based applications, once criminals have these electronic keys, they can access systems and cause havoc at will, from anywhere in the world.

But by taking some simple, extra precautions, we can all make it harder for the villains and easier to keep the things and people we value safe. There’s one defence that I strongly recommend you apply as widely as possible – Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA).  You’re probably using MFA already. When you log in to your online bank, enter your email or username and password, you're then asked for another code – that’s MFA. It adds an extra security layer, or ‘factor’, on top of usernames and passwords (which, as we know, are often not strong enough), before any access to data is allowed.

Also known as Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), MFA provides a unique, time-limited code via a hand-held device, such as PINsentry from Barclays, SMS or app, that is almost impossible for hackers to intercept. Even if the criminal has a stolen email address, username and password, MFA keeps the data safe.

This is a bit of a personal crusade for me. Every day I speak to SME owner/managers who, just like me and my colleagues, have worked their socks off to make a success of their businesses – and it’s satisfying to play a small part in helping to protect their hard-earned achievements.

Here’s a quick checklist to get you started on MFA:

  • Make a list of everything you and your business accesses using an email address, username and password
  • In particular, identify those systems or services that are cloud or web-based – as they are the ones most at risk of being hacked
  • Check with the providers of these systems (or ask your IT support company) to see if MFA can be applied and then do so immediately

If your current provider hasn’t mentioned MFA to you yet, then I would be a bit worried about that! We regard this kind of advice and guidance as part and parcel of our proactive support service that keeps our clients’ businesses as safe as possible, and delivers reliable, smoothly-running IT.

If you’d like to find out more about MFA, your options and how we can help, speak to our friendly team  here at The PC Support Group on 03300 886 116 or email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com for an informal and confidential chat.

Best wishes

Phil Bird, Managing Director, The PC Support Group

Leave a comment

Sue Johnston, Adult Service Manager, Liverpool Bereavement Service

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Thu 15th, Nov

Established 20 years ago, Liverpool Bereavement Service provides 1:1 counselling for adults and children throughout Merseyside.  Sue has been with Liverpool Bereavement Service since 2009 and began as a trustee. As a qualified counsellor, she took on the position of Adult Service Manager in 2011.

Sue was one of our very worthy Local Hero nominees at this year’s Liverpool & Sefton Chamber Annual Awards. The LBS Board said “Sue is highly skilled and widely regarded, and she could probably be described as the heart of our service as she seems to produce two hours of work each hour. Her work ensures that clients receive the support they require and is a valuable contribution to our counsellors and Liverpool Bereavement Service’.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

Sustainable long term funding! More awareness!

More awareness around the impact bereavement can have on people’s lives and of those around them. We look to highlight the support people need on an individual basis but also within the workplace.

With the workplace being such an important part of life employers should be encouraged to be more aware of the effects of bereavement and work in partnership with us for the care of their staff.

As part of the charity sector, funding is always an issue and to have sustainable long term funding for the work we is essential. I am eternally grateful for the continuous support from private funders, fundraisers and client donations without which we would not be able to provide such a valuable service. We strive to keep our waiting list down and everyone is supported regardless of circumstances.

What does a typical working day look like?

Every day is different but hopefully I start with checking any messages and emails and prioritising them. I then make sure all the rooms are in order for the day.

I initially assess 100% of people who come to us by either self- referral or from GPs and other associated services. As a result of the assessments I can allocate each client to a specific counsellor to suit their needs. Often I will follow up on clients who have finished their counselling and also taking care of the welfare and emotional needs of the counsellors which is an important aspect of my role.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

Take care of yourself – your mental wellbeing is important too.

Follow your dream to be the best at whatever you chose to do.

Where would we find you on your day off?

With my sister, Tina, my husband and three grown up children who are all supportive of my role at LBS.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

My first job was in a Solicitor’s office and the senior partner said to me, ‘don’t ever change who you are and always be yourself,’ so I stuck to that.

I often tell clients that yesterday is over, and you can’t change the past, but we can change how we think about it and how we feel.

Who or what inspire you?

Liverpool Bereavement Service inspires me every day. I see the good and the effect it has on people’s lives. The student counsellors inspire me as I watch them grow and develop into great counsellors. The clients inspire me as they show their resilience in difficult circumstances and they put their trust in Liverpool Bereavement Service.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

I was born in Huyton, I live in Liverpool. I want to do the best I can for the area I love, I want to make sure that everyone in Liverpool and its regions are supported so they too can always be themselves and the best version of themselves.  

Leave a comment

The story behind Terry Langton and we are Turncoat

Posted by Liverpool John Moores University

Wed 14th, Nov

Adaptability and the ability to weather changes and fluctuations in the marketplace provide a useful means to deliver business success. Given the changing landscape of consumer demands and trends it is often challenging for small businesses to innovate quickly enough. Even with the finances and might of a large customer base, some major high street retail chains and household names have fallen victim to changes in consumer shopping trends.

There is a growing recognition that small and agile is the way forward. The case of “We are Turncoat” illustrates the importance of being able to adapt and make changes, having a real passion for your product and efficient management of cash flow, in order to run a successful business and develop a brand. Mirroring the examples of illustrious entrepreneurs, Terry Langton started his craft brewing business from the garage of his house in 2010, while pursuing a degree in Business Management and Economics at Liverpool John Moores University. In 2012, he completed his degree, which coincided with a time when local bars and restaurants demanded local products. While his craft beer attracted this burgeoning market, it was a time of trial and error, trying to find the appropriate brand to draw the attention of consumers to his product. In 2014, he found a gap in Liverpool’s market with the ‘Love Lane Pale Ale’, which helped the firm enjoy growth. This growth was also spotted by a large brewery, which made an offer to buy Terry’s business.

Before the transaction was completed, Terry’s passion for beverages led him to venture into the world of gin production, which was on a clear upward trend. The sale of this business allowed him to turn his attention to establishing a distillery. The ability to recognise this trend and appetite in the market place helped Terry focus upon delivering a quality product that was clearly in demand.

All too often businesses forget about the bottom line, to ensure that the company makes sufficient returns and continues to trade. Prudence and a financial cushion are vital not only in the start-up phase but in ensuring business longevity. Terry contends that he not only planned for less optimistic sales but considered the potential that some creditors would end up defaulting on payments. “With the cash flow you put your business plan to the test… everything becomes realistic”.

An approach that is often underutilised but provides a valuable means to increase margin gains is through shortening ‘the distance’ between production and the end consumer, essentially removing middlemen in the transaction. Not only can this be more profitable but it also enables brand control. For Terry, being the face of the business requires constant meeting and talking to external stakeholders; these activities are precursors in keeping margins as significant as possible and controlling the brand.

It is equally true that the business often reflects the personality of the owner. The passion for the beverage industry, creativity in developing new gin flavours and even in the branding, ‘turning coat’ from brewing to distilling, are all emblematic of Terry. Indeed, his ability to adapt, change and spot trends in the market has provided a mouth watering recipe for success. (http://weareturncoat.com/) That is why we are delighted that Terry has been working with the research team, providing business insights to our students since 2016. This engagement has also allowed Terry to gain exposure, and in the process help him expand and widen his customer base.

This is the first of a series of articles from the Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, focussing on contemporary issues for local businesses. The research team, Dr Abel D. Alonso, Dr Seng Kok, and Dr Seamus O’Brien, have completed a range of projects nationally and internationally (Western Europe, Oceania, Latin America) since 2006. Their research predominantly focuses on family, micro and small businesses in the areas of international business, innovation, socioeconomic development, and sustainability. For more information contact: a.alonso@ljmu.ac.uk

Leave a comment

Posted by Paul Bresnihan

CEO of Growth Partners Plc

Fri 02nd, Nov

Growth Partners plc is a rapidly growing company set up to transform the working environments of UK businesses. Effectively an employee engagement company, Growth Partners’ unique platform of HR services provides a practical solution for employers looking to improve employee wellbeing and enhance workplace performance.

Yesterdays Awards & Dinner was truly a spectacular evening, and we were honoured to sponsor the Responsible Employer of the Year Award. It was a wonderful showcase of strong leadership, and continues to be an aspirational category for any business wanting to make the right moves in their industry.

In the age of social media, increasingly it seems that employees and customers alike look beyond just the product or service purchased, and consider the bigger picture...

What does this company stand for?

Do I feel comfortable standing by it?

Now, more than ever, ethos is under spotlight, paving the way to greater corporate merit whereby businesses can continue to make bold, but also responsible moves in the direction of success. Not only internally, creating vibrant and diverse workspaces, but also communally, environmentally, working towards a company vision that continues to care for customers, suppliers, and the wider community that their business will inevitably impact.

At Growth Partners, a positive difference is not just a last minute consideration or accessory to a higher goal, but integrated within everything that we do. At our core, we strive to build environments that employees look forward to working in. We make our clients’ office spaces/work sites/remote posts, whatever it may be, a healthier and happier place to operate from. We believe that an employee that ticks both boxes of sound health and spirit is far more likely to perform better, and with greater commitment towards their employer’s goals.

How might a company create a better workplace?

You could literally refurb, sprucing up the office or site with a few licks of paint, some swanky desks, a staffroom vending machine - all nice. Or, and what we believe is far more effective, you could refurb the policies ingrained within your company’s day-to-day. Undoubtedly, what underpins any strong workforce is a diverse and proactive company culture that uplifts and makes the full term of each individual’s shift an enjoyably productive one.

The Growth Pro platform that we offer gives our clients tremendous support in responsible employee management. To put it simply, our business is all about making employers’ lives easier and employees' working environments a happier and healthier space.

To do this, we give clients access to a market-leading suite, including:

  • Online GP & Counselling
  • Fitness & Nutritional Support
  • Occupational Health Guidance
  • 6,000+ Retail & Gym Discounts

And for employers, we are the go-to for everything HR, be it a request for general advice or an actual dedicated team to unburden a chunk of duties. The main ones:

  • A secure, GDPR compliant Payroll & ePayslip distribution
  • Top-rate pension schemes & investment management
  • Strategic recruitment support

In a way, a little pitch about what we’re all about, but also it’s our way of offering a unique solution to a key business concern: how can I support my employees, and in turn inspire them to continue to work hard for my business?

For us, Responsible Employers are businesses that seek to understand the needs of their employees, championing the growth of each individual alongside the growth of the company. Whether promoting fairness and equality in the workplace or pushing for positive development in the wider community, Growth Partners applauds the hard work of all finalists and to the winner, Mott MacDonald, from all of the GP team - a huge congratulations!

Leave a comment

Neil Ashbridge, Chair of Liverpool & Sefton Chambers of Commerce provides some thoughts on the Budget.

Posted by Neil Ashbridge

Fri 02nd, Nov

Despite the fact that so many details of the Budget had already been published or discussed in various parts of the media, Philip Hammond still managed to surprise political commentators and adversaries.

There was certainly good news for business with support for investment and growth. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) and Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) have both however sounded a note of caution and if not quite the Sword of Damocles, the uncertainty around Brexit also continues to cast a shadow with the news that a new budget will need to be set if there is a no deal Brexit.

On the positive side there was certainly enough for business to celebrate, including the increase in the Annual Investment Allowance to £1m and reducing the cost of apprenticeship training for SMEs, both of which should provide companies with the confidence to invest in capital assets as well as in their workforce. Maintaining the VAT threshold and support for UK high streets are also to be welcomed.

The Liverpool city region will benefit from the announcement that £37 million of funding will be available for Northern Powerhouse Rail to develop a fast rail link between Liverpool and Leeds. Extra funding will also be available to the metro mayors with the city region receiving £38.5m under the Transforming Cities Fund.

So is it fair to call the budget a “bit of a gamble”?

The OBR’s confirmation that the UK’s fiscal outlook is healthier than they expected, with the forecast for 2019 upgraded to 1.6 per cent (previously 1.3 per cent) and forecasted growth in 2020 upgraded to 1.4 per cent (from 1.3 per cent), allowed the Chancellor to provide additional spending on the NHS and public services. However, if UK economic growth remains subdued, he will need to ensure that additional measures are in place to drive productivity and growth.

Fundamental to that is increasing business confidence in the economy and looking beyond Brexit, as uncertainty over future trading conditions continues to act as a brake on business investment in both the manufacturing and services sectors.

Whilst there is much to be applauded in the Budget therefore, it is crucial that we continue to lobby the government on what really matters to business outside the Westminster bubble.

One example is access to finance, which remains a key impediment to business growth according to surveys undertaken by the British Chambers of Commerce and other business groups. Last month I joined representatives from MSIF and the Local Enterprise Partnership at a roundtable workshop to develop the policy position with the Finance & Leasing Association and Association of Certified Chartered Accountants.

An interim report has now been submitted to the government detailing policy priorities for businesses seeking access to finance and the report can be read here.

The key recommendations include enabling better resourcing and coordination of support mechanisms for signposting SMEs to finance and for the government to adopt a more proportionate and holistic approach to regulation affecting small business and those who fund them.

Let’s hope the Chancellor is still in the mood for listening!

Leave a comment

Philip Bird, Managing Director of The PC Support Group

Posted by Liverpool and Sefton Chambers of Commerce

Fri 02nd, Nov

Introduce yourself – name, where do you sit in the business, and what does the business do?

Philip Bird, Managing Director of The PC Support Group

The PC Support Group is a multi-award-winning IT Managed Service Provider, supporting businesses throughout the North West. We specialise in providing a full range of IT and telephony products and services to enable SMEs to maximise the benefits of technology.  Using the latest remote management & automation systems along with our highly skilled technicians, we ensure our clients are connected, compliant, secure and adaptable to the fast changing commercial environment we all now operate in. Our services include fully outsourced IT support, one-off IT projects, managed data protection, file sharing solutions, security audits and services, and VoIP solutions. We don’t believe in “one size fits all” so we offer both on-premise and cloud-based solutions tailored to specific client’s needs.

What changes would you like to see to improve or develop your sector?

We desperately need more highly qualified youngsters coming in to the IT profession as there is a growing skills shortage and I would love to see more women working in the IT sector as it’s far too male dominated and there’s no reason why this should be the case.

What advice would you give your teenage self?

I’ve come to realise that most setbacks really do lead to opportunities, so I would tell myself not to worry too much if things don’t go to plan and look for those opportunities. When I did my A Levels I was expected to get high grades and go to Liverpool University to study Physics but the results didn’t come and I ended up at Manchester Polytechnic (as it was called then) to study Physics and Computing and I hated Physics! Since then my whole career has been with computers which may not have happened had I got good A level results. I also started my first company after the one I was working for went into liquidation. Another silver lining from a cloud. So I try to apply this thinking as much as I can now.

Where would we find you on your day off?

Usually up a hill on a bike in the Derbyshire hills. Like most people I rode a bike as a kid and then stopped as soon as I learned to drive but in 2012 I set myself a challenge to ride from London to Paris in 3 days and it sparked a real love of cycling. I must admit that as the cold weather and dark nights draw in you’re more likely to see me in the gym though.

What is the best advice you have been given in your career?

It’s probably a bit of advice that’s become a cliché but I still think it holds true… employ people that are better than you. To start a business and get it moving you have to be pretty good but for it to grow and become truly exceptional you need people who can bring more expertise in each area

Who is your role model in business?

I don’t think there is one business person that is perfect so I try to learn from anyone and everyone. However, if I was to select one then it would probably be James Dyson. I admire his commitment to creating wonderful products and providing great service when so many businesses focus on being cheap at the expense of everything else. I never wanted The PC Support Group to be cheap, I wanted us to provide exceptional service and bring real value to our clients, so I can at least say Mr Dyson and I share that passion.

Why choose Liverpool City Region?

Merseyside was a great place to start our business as it’s got a thriving SME community, a number of academic institutions bringing through potential employees and is geographically well located to allow us to service businesses throughout the region. We’ve now also added a Manchester office.

Leave a comment

Posted by Lindsey Knowles

Partner, Head of Employment Law at Kirwans Solicitors

Mon 29th, Oct

For employers, it’s second nature to check emails at least every 30 minutes, no matter what time of the day, or day of the week it is.

However, courts in Ireland and France have recently ruled that employees should not feel under the same pressure – and have heavily penalised companies that fail to recognise their right to ‘switch off’ outside of office hours.

In August, a business executive employed at a subsidiary company of meat producer Kepak in Ireland was awarded €7,500 after successfully arguing that she was required to respond to emails out of working hours, including some after midnight. This meant that her working hours went over the maximum 48 hours a week set out in Irish law.

The case followed a similar one in France in July, brought under the country’s new ‘right to disconnect’ law, which saw Rentokil ordered to pay a former employee €60,000 (£53,000) for failing to respect his ‘right to disconnect’ from his phone and computer outside office hours.

The judgements have caused shockwaves among businesses around the world as bosses have been forced to question whether they too are guilty of expecting their employees to provide a swift response to emails – no matter whether they are officially working or not.

Although neither of these cases directly affect English law, now that the issue has made its way through the judiciary system abroad, it’s highly likely that it won’t be too long before similar cases are brought before the courts here, meaning that firms need to take action now to avoid being penalised in the future.

Looking again overseas, companies such as Volkswagen and Daimler in Germany have led the way in self-protection by introducing bold email policies that prevent employees being contacted via email once they’ve left the office.

In 2012, Volkswagen agreed to stop its Blackberry servers sending emails to some of its employers when they were off-shift, while in 2014, Daimler introduced its much-heralded ‘Mail on Holiday’ policy, which gives employees the option to set their emails to auto-delete while away from the office in order to avoid facing an overflowing inbox on their return.

Last year, Uwe Hück, head of Porsche’s works council and deputy chairman of Porsche’s supervisory board, mooted the idea of the firm’s employees being protected from work-related emails out of hours, with any correspondence between 7pm and 6am being returned to the sender.

But what of the employees who prefer the flexibility that out-of-hours emails can bring? Those who have loosely-termed agreements in place that they can, for example, leave early to collect the children from school on the understanding that they’ll pick up any emails later on in the evening?

It’s a difficult balance to strike, but the recent cases have made it clear that any such agreement should form part of an employee’s contract and that the practice of regularly sending work emails out of hours should be brought to an end.

The need to stop and think before dashing off an email will be a culture change for some; but it’s a necessary one if employers are to protect their business from the prospect of hefty legal penalties.

Lindsey Knowles is Head of Employment Law at Kirwans law firm

Leave a comment

Posted by Lindsey Knowles

Partner, Head of Employment Law at Kirwans Solicitors

Wed 24th, Oct

Employers are being reminded of their legal responsibilities when it comes to protecting their staff at Christmas parties after a Court of Appeal Judge held a company liable for the behaviour of its managing director at a festive get-together.

Lindsey Knowles, employment law solicitor at Kirwans law firm, is urging employers to set out strict recommendations in relation to the office party, in an attempt to avoid altercations occurring that could lead to potential claims against the business.

The warning comes following a Court of Appeal hearing last week, at which the Judge ruled that a recruitment agency was vicariously liable for the actions of its managing director after he punched one of his employees, causing him brain damage, at a Christmas party.

However, Lindsey warns that not all businesses realise the legal responsibility they have to ensure that their employees are protected at such events.

She said: “In the run-up to Christmas, most people look forward to enjoying a drink with colleagues and celebrating the festive season.

“Often though, alcohol and work can prove an unhealthy mix, and a booze-fuelled party can easily lead to personal injury, sexual harassment or discrimination by members of their staff for which the employer can be held responsible - or vicariously liable.

According to Lindsey, however, there is a defence for companies that can prove they took all possible steps to prevent the act from occurring.

“Businesses can’t possibly prepare for every eventuality, but there are actions they can take to protect both their employees and their business so that the festive celebrations act as a conduit to bring the team together - rather than cause ructions that tear it apart.”

Here, Lindsey, along with her colleagues James Barker, personal injury solicitor, and Frank Rogers from Just Motor Law, Kirwans’ motoring arm, set out their top six ‘dos’ and don’ts’ for creating a Christmas party with no nasty aftershocks.

Ground rules for planning an office Christmas party

1. Remind staff of appropriate behaviour

This can be done in the form of an email prior to the party, reminding employers that the party’s location is, in essence, an extension of the workplace, so actions that would lead to disciplinary proceedings in the course of a normal working day will do so at the party too. Staff should also be reminded of your social media policy, to avoid numerous photographs of respected professionals in party mode appearing on the internet.

2. Ensure the event is not discriminatory

The Christmas party should be all-inclusive – and that includes making sure disabled staff can access all parts of it, there are a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks for teetotallers and that cultural, religious and medical dietary requirements are taken into account. Also remember that not all staff members may celebrate Christmas, so be sensitive to the fact when planning the festivities.

3. Control the amount of free alcohol on offer

If an employee becomes injured as a direct result of consuming too much alcohol, there could be implications for the employer in terms of potential claims, so put a limit on what’s on offer, or don’t serve high alcohol spirits.

4. Arrange transport home

It’s vital that staff are able to get home safely, so either arrange transport or ensure that licensed taxis are available.

5. Communicate your ‘morning after’ policy

Let staff know well in advance of any special working arrangements there might be for the morning after the event – such as coming in late or having the morning off. Make sure they’re aware of what is and isn’t acceptable, and remind them of the importance of being entirely alcohol free before they attempt to drive. Also ensure any employees who had been drinking the night before are not asked to drive for work purposes the following day as, in certain circumstances, the employer can be prosecuted as well as the employee in relation to driving offences committed the morning after the event.

6. Conduct a workplace party risk assessment

If the party is being held on works premises, there is a responsibility on the employer to make sure the property is safe for such an event and that the area designated for the party has been risk assessed and is suitable for the purpose.

Leave a comment