Ebenezer Scrooge
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Strip the halls of boughs of holly, cancel the mistletoe and wine order, and downgrade that turkey to a chicken. Corporate killjoys are sharpening their swords and ready to scythe down employee fun this Christmas time.

Chancellor George Osborne may be banging on about an economic recovery in the UK, but budgets are still tight and so are bosses.

"As the festive season draws nearer, chiefs need to act quickly to curb employee partying at the expense of the bottom line," said Noel Moran, founder and CEO of Prepaid Financial Services, a technology and payments specialist.

"Business leaders have always struggled to keep tabs on their employee's expenses, but economic pressures have now made oversight of this spending essential.

"The problem is especially pressing this Christmas. The opportunities for festivity are multiplied, but difficult economic times have left some employees facing delayed bonuses, so we'd expect the temptation to claim a surreptitious round of drinks on expenses to be even greater than usual."

There isn't just a crackdown on expenses. Finger-waggers have laid down a bunch of rules for parties too.

"The traditional office Christmas party represents a great way to say thank you to your staff for their loyal service during the year, boost staff morale and allow them to bond but at the same time, it also represents a potential legal minefield for employers," said Julian Cox, partner and employment lawyer at Fletcher Day.

"The increase in alcohol intake throughout the evening is often inversely proportionate to standards of conduct and behaviour, spelling trouble.

"The morning after, you may be faced with something of an employment law hangover, involving complaints such as fighting, harassment and other acts of discrimination that may result in (a) claim(s) in the employment tribunal."

Cox compiled a "survival guide" for employers holding Christmas parties. Among his recommendations are "just say 'no' to mistletoe".

"It could be considered harassment under the Equality Act 2010," he said.

Cox also warns employers to give staff a reminder that they're still on office time at the party and so there shouldn't be any funny business.

"Reminding your staff that as it's a work party it is still considered normal working hours and staff must maintain standards of behaviour and are aware of bullying and harassment, drugs and alcohol misuse," said his guide.

If you've arranged a cabaret for staff to enjoy, you should probably check it's not the ghost of Bernard Manning who's about to hit the stage.

"Check your entertainer's material in advance to ensure it does not give offence," said the guide. Secret Santa gifts should be "inoffensive and appropriate".

Stick to the rules, though, and you can still have fun.

"Whilst the potential legal pitfalls we have highlighted may leave you feeling that organising and hosting your office Christmas party is a daunting prospect, so long as you follow the tips provided there is no reason why your Christmas party ought not to be a highly enjoyable occasion and resounding success," said Cox.

Merry Christmas.