Christmas parties for employers and employees provide a welcome relief from the day-to-day stress of being in business. It is an opportunity for employers to show their appreciation for the year’s hard work to their employees.
Both employers and employees should be wary however, that a Christmas party even if it is outside of office hours and at a different venue than the normal workplace is still defined as “in the course of employment”.
A recent decision in the Fair Work Commission saw an employee whilst behaving in an otherwise inappropriate and offensive way, did not constitute grounds for dismissal. The Member in that decision noted several reasons, the most notably being that the employer allowed unlimited alcohol consumption. In this case it was found that it was “entirely predictable that some individuals will consume an excessive amount and behave inappropriately”. One of the basis of this decision was it was contradictory for an employer to supply endless alcohol and then dismiss an employee as a result of behaviour affected by the endless supply of alcohol.
Employers can be liable for actions of their employees at work related events these include Christmas parties.
It is however, important to remember that Christmas parties are a time to enjoy your colleagues’ company in a more relaxed environment. In the spirit of the season Everingham Solomons provides a Do’s and Don’ts for both Employees and Employers for the Office Christmas Party Season;
- Turn up! Get to know your colleagues outside the office environment.
- Choose your karaoke song wisely;
- As alcohol will normally be served at office events, employers should organise travel arrangements, such as a taxi or courtesy bus to ensure their employees get home safely.
- Ensure your staff are reminded that a Christmas party is a workplace event and the expectation is that behaviour will reflect this. A timely reminder to staff of any existing office policies and procedures, particularly in relation to sexual harassment and bullying would also be relevant.
- Monitor your own behaviour this includes alcohol consumption
- Enjoy yourself!
- For employers if you receive a complaint post the Christmas party, take it seriously and investigate it as you would any other office incident.
- Do not do something you know you would not be allowed to do in the office. Remember policies of your workplace apply.
- Remember, the Christmas party is not the time to campaign for a pay rise!
- Employees and employers should refrain from posting photos of the Christmas party and social media to avoid embarrassing pictures of themselves and colleagues entering the Twittersphere
The simple message for all is to enjoy yourselves in a responsible manner. Everingham Solomons wishes everyone a safe and Merry Christmas please don’t drink and drive. Helping You is Our Business.
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