27 Dec 2013

Should the Xmas office party be banned?

Doubtless some workers will wake up after their office party regretting the actions of the night before, but did you know back in 1961 the government was considering banning the party altogether?

When in the week before Christmas 1961, Transport Minister Ernest Marples (already responsible for introducing parking meters, yellow lines and traffic wardens) hinted that he was considering following the lead of Chicago and introduce a ban on office parties in an effort to reduce the significant increase in drink-driving accidents in December, ITN sent Brian Wildlake onto the streets to gauge public opinion.

The first interviewee agreed with Marples but he did not favour an outright ban on parties, suggesting instead that they should be non-alcoholic. ‘But it wouldn’t be a party then!’ says Wildlake, sounding quite aggrieved. According to the second man in the street, people at his office party get “jolly, but they don’t have too much.” Which sounds quite reasonable.

A group of girls explain, amidst some giggling, that the party is important for the staff to meet the directors not just “…to get merry.”

“It helps a good feeling between the management and staff,” adds one. “We’d be lost if we didn’t have them.”

When Wildlake asks if she would prefer a bigger bonus instead… she laughs. “It would need to be twenty pounds bigger. At least!”