Is food compulsory

Labor law - is the Christmas meal compulsory?

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Now they are happening again: the year-end aperitifs and Christmas meals. This occasion is on the stomach for a listener. His boss has made the Christmas dinner a must. "Can I at least write down the working hours", he wants to know. «Espresso» legal expert gives the answer.

Author: Gabriela Baumgartner

An "Espresso" listener from the canton of St. Gallen is probably not alone with this concern: at the end of the year, the company will have Christmas dinner. "Last year it degenerated with us," writes the man. "Everyone was drinking cups, in the end I was bullied and laughed at."

Understandably, the upcoming event is literally on his stomach. He would prefer not to go there this year. But according to the boss, participation is mandatory. “Can you really force me to take part in a Christmas dinner?” The man from St. Gallen would like to know from “Espresso”.

There is no obligation to participate in the evening

From a legal point of view, the Christmas dinner is quickly explained: If it takes place outside of working hours, there is no obligation for employees to participate from a labor law perspective. Those who go there do so more “voluntarily” and can therefore neither write down overtime nor charge additional travel expenses.

It is different if a Christmas party takes place during working hours. Then the management can insist on participation. If the event does not take place in the company, the employees are entitled to the travel expenses and can write down the additional time required for the journey as the way to work.

Violent flirt? Doesn't exist!

Whether participation is voluntary or not, certain rules also apply to the Christmas dinner. This is especially true for superiors: As in everyday work, they have a duty of care towards their employees. Here are the most important points for a Christmas dinner:

  • The employer must protect its employees from sexual harassment. For example, he is not allowed to stand by and watch the customer service employee constantly having to defend herself against being turned on by her tipsy colleague from the marketing department.
  • The employer must protect the health of his employees. He must plan and organize the celebration accordingly so that there are no threats. This is especially true for outdoor events, for example with a fire. And of course the celebration must take place in a smoke-free location.
  • Ultimately, the employer must respect freedom of religion. He must not force or force anyone to drink alcohol or consume food if the religion of the person concerned does not allow this. If the wearing of religious clothing is forbidden in the workplace or is only permitted to a limited extent for certain reasons, these rules only apply to the Christmas dinner if these reasons also apply there. In most cases this will not be the case.
  • Ultimately, the employer can get into difficulties if his employees drink too much and then drive home. As part of his duty of care, he would have to prevent her from doing so, and under certain circumstances he could face criminal consequences.

From a legal point of view, the "Espresso" listener could avoid the unpopular occasion if it takes place outside of working hours. Whether he's doing himself a favor is another question.

Anyone who pinches on such occasions for no understandable reason not only expresses a lack of interest in the company and colleagues, but also a lack of appreciation. Both will hardly have a positive effect on the mood.

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The legal expert Gabriela Baumgartner answers a legal question every Thursday in «Espresso». Here are the previous answers.
If you also have a question, write to us.

  1. Kassensturz espresso
  2. Employment Law
  3. Current article

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