A large number of employers say they will not be paying for a staff Christmas party this year because of the economic downturn.

The latest survey from employment law consultancy firm Peninsula Ireland suggests that 79% of Irish employers will not be paying for yuletide jollies this year.

71% of businesses also say Christmas parties are simply a waste of company money and 68% of employers have received a complaint of harassment from an employee following their Christmas party.

The survey was conducted by telephone and in person to 2,043 Irish employers from a variety of industries between 1 October and 20 October 2008.

Alan Price, Head of Peninsula Ireland said ‘Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well in the workplace as Irish bosses blame the economic downturn and cancel their Christmas party, bringing festive gloom.'

He added that with the economic conditions the way they are, firms just cannot warrant spending money on a Christmas party.

Mr Price said that these events represent a considerable cost to any firm, whether they employ five people or 50, and many employers consider this another process in tightening their belt and making their company more cost efficient.

Firms who have been forced to make people redundant may also consider spending money on a Christmas party inappropriate as well as detrimental to the streamlining plan they are implementing in their business, he said.

However, Mr Price highlighted the advantages of Christmas parties.

He said they are an effective way to encourage staff to bond as a team and often bring them closer together.

They also have a noticeable impact on staff morale, something that employers need to keep on top of during this period of economic uncertainty.