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Access to/inclusion in company social events

JC2018JC2018 Posts: 3Member Listener
Hello,

I have cerebral palsy and I'm looking to find out what my employer is required to do by law in terms of my access to company social events and where I stand in terms of asking for help from them. Please can you help?

The Christmas party this year will be a shared event with other companies so there will be people attending that don't know me or my mobility difficulties. My balance and spatial awareness are poor and I am vulnerable...particularly in crowds.

Employees can bring a guest at their own expense. 

I would like to attend the event on my own.

I have asked for help with making sure that I am safe at the event.....for example that I get to my seat safely or to the toilets safely.

I have been told by my employer that if I need this help then I would need to bring a guest with me.

Is this a reasonable response from my employer in terms of the Equality Act or other relevant legislation? What are they required to do re my access at company social functions? Do their obligations just cover things like the provision of ramp access or disabled toilets or are they also required to take steps or make reasonable adjustments ensure my safety at the event as well?  Where do I stand in terms of asking for help from them with keeping safe at company events?

Any advice you can give would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Julie


Replies

  • GeoarkGeoark Posts: 1,121Community champion Pioneering
    Hi @JC2018 ; I hope someone can prove me wrong, but the short answer is, I believe, yes their response is reasonable. However for a more definitive answer you could contact ACAS and ask the question.

    While they have certain responsibilities towards you within work, social events tend to be voluntary and to provide you the support you are requesting would mean assigning someone to oversee your support which would mean that person would not be free to fully enjoy themselves.

    If it was mandatory for you to attend then that would be a different scenario.

    The only reason why I take part in the team Christmas social event is that they start the evening with a quiet meal before going on to something to a club or pub. Even then I struggle and will zone out as everything turns into white noise and I struggle to focus on what is being said. I never attend the large social events, and would struggle to get home afterwards if I did attend, because of the venue they usually choose. My situation is different as it is by choice.

    That said social events can be important as it is an opportunity to network and get to know people who you may not normally speak to, which in turn can eventually open opportunities that may not present themselves otherwise. 

    Companies usually provide a budget for the event, which is why when they include being able to take someone they have to pay for the +1, if part of the reason for wanting to go on your own is due to the cost it may be worth talking to the person who is actually organising the event to see if there is any leeway. I do appreciate though that this may not have nothing to do with it.

    As an individual I stood alone.
    As a member of a group I did things.
    As part of a community I helped to create change!

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Posts: 3,259Administrator Scope community team
    Hi @JC2018, what a difficult situation! Of course you should be entitled to reasonable adjustment and for your employer to think about your needs regarding this. However, with it not being a compulsory part of your job I am unsure where you stand legally. I appreciate this is extremely frustrating.
    Chloe
    Online Community Officer
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