Are after work drinks discriminatory?

Jeremy Corbyn MP, leader of the Labour Party, has said that companies which encourage socialising after work over a drink disadvantage female employees with children. It may be perceived as “detrimental to career progression” to not socialise over a drink with the rest of the team on a Friday evening. Mr Corbyn has been reported as saying that the culture of after work drinks “benefits men who don’t feel the need to be at home looking after their children and it discriminates against women who will want to…” Evidently the culture of after work drinks may also place men at a disadvantage as they too, may prefer to be at home with their children.

There are many working cultures where socialising and networking events are part of the fabric of the working day. Employers however should ensure, where possible, that they do not require their workforce to attend networking events or evening drinks outside of an employee’s contractual hours. This may not always be practical, however employers must ensure that they are sympathetic to those employees who cannot attend social functions outside of working hours. Companies should also ensure that employees do not feel ostracised.

Dominic Bonham