THERE are plenty of things to worry about ahead of a work Christmas do. Will it be boring; will Steve from accounts get drunk and embarrass himself; will your leery boss try to hit on you; will someone use the photocopier to make copies of their backside…
But to be forewarned is to be forearmed, and to help residents of Spain avoid trouble at their festive parties or dinners, legal firm Legalitas has come up with a handy list of behaviour that could result in disciplinary action under Spanish law. (It does not, unfortunately, offer any advice about the photocopier thing.)
Insults or aggressions
Christmas parties are a time for people to let their hair down, and there is often plenty of alcohol on hand. But the combination of booze and a relaxed atmosphere can lead to conflicts between employees.
Legalitas advises partiers to avoid any unfortunate comments or nasty jokes about your colleagues or your boss, such as making fun of their looks or the way they talk.
This behaviour could come back to haunt you as it could be grounds for dismissal or disciplinary action depending on the circumstances and seriousness of the incident.
That said, under Spanish law an employee would have had to have incurred in this behaviour previously or the behaviour would have to be serious or very serious for them to get fired.
Careful who you flirt with
Office romances usually fall within the realms of people’s personal lives, but there can be issues under certain circumstances.
Your company may have internal policies about inter-employee relationships, which can sometimes include termination of employment or a change in location once they come to light.
What’s more, if a CEO or a manager is having a relationship with one of their subordinates, they run the risk under Spanish law of future accusations of workplace harassment.
Check before posting pictures online
These days everything is caught on camera thanks to the ubiquitous smartphone and their very high-quality images.
But employees need to take care with any photos snapped at the Christmas party, in particular where they share them after.
According to Legalitas, permission is needed from anyone in a photo or video before it is forwarded on to other people or uploaded to the internet. This is even the case when the person has posed for a photo, as they have not granted consent for it to be shared with third parties.
Even if consent is granted, this is revocable, and the person who appears in the picture has the legal right to take it down whenever they like.
And don’t even think of videoing someone without their knowledge in a compromising position, such as in a bathroom cubicle, for example: that would be a criminal offence that could land the employee with a four-year jail term.
Watch your alcohol intake
Drinking too much and displaying drunken behaviour at a Christmas party could be grounds for dismissal. But, as mentioned previously, this would have to have happened on a regular occasion to warrant being fired, and constitute an obstacle to that person carrying out their job.
Missing work the next day
If you’ve really overdone it at the Christmas party, and can’t make it to your place of work the next day, your absence could lead to suspension of work and pay or even a sacking. But again, this would have to have happened before for such serious disciplinary action, according to Legalitas.
Fortunately, if you make it into work albeit with something of an odour of alcohol about you, there is no way a company could fire you if you are not actually drunk. A recent ruling from the Galician High Court found in favour of the defendant in just such a situation.