HUDDERSFIELD employers have been warned to keep things under control at the office Christmas party.
Lawyer Michelle Batty says bosses could end up facing an employment tribunal if matters get out of hand.
Ms Batty, of Huddersfield law firm Eaton Smith, said: "Year after year, employers get in difficulties after the office party.
"Comments made during drunken discussions - which at the time are part and parcel of the festive cheer - may, in the cold light of day, be taken by an employee as incidents of bullying, harassment or discrimination.
"Employers may find themselves facing a grievance, resignation or tribunal claim."
The warning came as a survey suggested that fewer manufacturing firms planned to throw parties for their staff this year.
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said 60% of manufacturers planned a party, as against 71% last year.
But it said the lack of Christmas spirit was down to firms facing competitive pressures, higher costs and tighter profit margins, rather than playing Scrooge just for the sake of it.
Ms Batty said bosses planning office parties, should make sure they were familiar with their company's grievance procedure.
And she stressed that employers should not waive the usual disciplinary measures just because it was Christmas.
"An employee who fails to attend work the day after the office party should be dealt with in accordance with the employer's disciplinary procedure or statutory procedure," she said.
"Employers should provide non-alcoholic drinks and food.
"In terms of refreshments and entertainment care should be taken to ensure all employees are catered for, regardless of age, sex, sexual orientation or religion. There should be access for employees with a disability."
She said: "An employer has a duty of care towards an employee's health and safety.
"An employer who knowingly allows an employee to drive home after one too many glasses of mulled wine has failed to protect its employees' health and safety."