With the Christmas party season fast approaching, employers have been warned not to get carried away with festive spirit and offer pay rises to staff that they may regret later in the cold light of day.
Manchester law firm, Glaisyers, has advised employers to be careful what they say after a recent tribunal case in which an employee claimed for constructive dismissal because the pay rise he was offered at the end of his company’s annual dinner-dance did not materialise.
Although the employee lost the case on appeal on the grounds that the conversation between the claimant and his manager at the party did not amount to an enforceable promise to increase pay, Glaisyers solicitor Russell Brown said that bosses still need to engage their brains before opening their mouths.
"In this particular case the EAT (Employment Appeal Tribunal ) held that the original promise was not contractually enforceable, and was part of a conversation that took place within the context of a social event.
"There is also the fact that the individual did receive a pay rise of over Ł10,000, which though wasn’t the amount promised, did go someway towards softening the EAT’s view towards the case.
"The office Christmas party is a potential banana skin for company bosses and have in recent years been the source of a large number of sexual discrimination claims. This is yet another danger that bosses need to be aware of and though the employer’s case for constructive dismissal was rejected here, employers should not only be on their best behaviour, but on their guard!"