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Be careful what you promise for Christmas!

BY Hannah Lynn
Employment Law & HR

With only 12 days until Christmas Eve, we are full in the Party Season! With this being an occasion to let your hair down and have a good time, and potentially consume copious amounts of alcohol on offer, it is important to not over promise to your employees. In the case of ‘Judge v Crown Leisure Limited’ the claimant had been to his Christmas party and his manager had promised him his salary would double in the space of two years. When this was not achieved two years’ later the claimant resigned and claimed constructive dismissal. 

The Court of Appeal held that the context this conversation was held in (i.e. the Christmas Party) made it unlikely that he did not have an intention to bind himself contractually to this commitment, to the claimant. It was simple a statement of intent.

This is a particularly lucky case for this employer and it does not give the green light that anything can be promised at the Christmas party because it won’t be binding. What it makes clear is that employers should be aware that promises made during the party could potentially be legally binding. This risk could be minimised by advising management to not discuss anything performance or pay related with employees.

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