Working environment

Social events in the workplace: Here are the rules you need to know

Team building days, Friday bars and the annual Christmas party are part of one's work life. But which rules apply if an accident happens, you say too much or you are harassed by a colleague? IDA’s legal advisers answer some of the frequently asked questions about work events and functions in Denmark

The role of social events at Danish workplaces

In Denmark, a workplace typically arranges a number of social events, theme days and parties in the course of a year. The social aspect of these Friday bars and excursions is an important part of forming good relationships with one’s colleagues. This is where you meet potential collaboration partners from other departments – or make new friends that make your work life more enjoyable.

When it comes to events that happen at or in connection with your workplace, the same rights you always have are still in place. This means that if an accident happens and you break something, or you experience harassment in some form, there is a framework in place for getting help and support. Below we've listed some situations you might encounter - and how to react if they do. 

Situation 1: You are injured at a company event

You trip on the dance floor and fracture your hand, or you slip in a puddle of beer and severely sprain your foot. What rules apply in such situations?

When the social event is an official party sponsored by the employer, you are covered by the same rules in the Workers' Compensation Act as when you work normally. This means that your employer must report it as an occupational injury.

It doesn't matter if you're drunk or the party is held at work or at another location. What is crucial is that the activity by which you are injured is a natural part of the event. And dancing at a Christmas lunch or summer party is.

The employer's workers' compensation insurance covers you until the official party ends. So if you continue the party elsewhere, it is your own responsibility to make sure that you are covered by your own accident insurance.

Read about occupational injuries: What should you do if an accident occurs?

Situation 2: You criticize your boss when you meet at the bar. Now you are nervous about whether you will receive a warning and, in the worst case, a notice of dismissal on Monday morning

As a starting point, the same rules apply to parties at work as on a normal working day. Therefore, it would be a good idea to have a talk with your manager and apologise if you think you have crossed the line.

Having said that, most workplaces are more relaxed when it comes to Christmas lunches, summer parties and other festive occasions than on a normal working day. You are the best judge of whether you have been too rough in terms of what the normal tone is at your workplace. 

Situation 3: You experience unwanted sexual attention or offensive remarks from a colleague 

Your colleague puts their hand on your bottom when you take the elevator together, or you receive a text message with an inappropriate picture from your manager. 

These experiences are examples of sexual harassment – ​​unwanted, transgressive and sexually charged attention from others. Sexual harassment is a serious offense and is prohibited by law. 

You must not go through the experience alone, as it can affect you in the long term both physically and psychologically. If you do not have the strength to speak out against those who crossed your boundaries, then it is a good idea to tell your manager, a good colleague, HR or your union representative about the experience. 

If you are in doubt as to whether you have done or said something offensive to a colleague, you can start by addressing the person in question directly and apologise if necessary. Alternatively, you can consult with your manager, HR or your union representative about how you can apologise to your colleague in a good way. 

Read what to do if you are the victim of a violation at your workplace 

Situation 4: You destroy property and equipment at the workplace

You are helping to prepare for a party, but accidentally smash a table into a glass wall, which shatters into a thousand pieces. Which insurance will cover it – yours or the workplace's?

In the vast majority of cases, it will be the employer's insurance that covers equipment that is accidentally destroyed during working hours. However, if you are grossly negligent, on purpose or in a highly intoxicated state, you destroy something, it cannot be ruled out that you will be responsible for covering the damage.