jmhWith holidays around the corner, it’s not surprising that many employees tend to lose their inhibitions at work-related end of year celebrations.

Employer Responsibilities

As part of their obligations, and to avoid the litigious pitfalls due to an employee’s inappropriate conduct, employers must take reasonable steps to mitigate their legal exposure and to avoid inappropriate workplace behaviour at the Christmas party, or any other work function

Practical Steps for Employers

Ten basic precautions employers can take include the following:

  1. Ensure all policies and procedures are clear and that they are understood by all employees. A written reminder just prior to the function may assist to ensure employees are aware of the company’s expectations with regard to their behaviour.
  2. Monitor the consumption of alcohol and ensure the venue ceases service if necessary. Also provide non-alcoholic beverages.
  3. Have a designated senior manager who does not drink at the function to increase the level of vigilance and set a ‘lead by example’ approach.
  4. Where there is alcohol, there should also be food. People become inebriated faster when consuming alcohol on an empty stomach.
  5. Enquire about and, if reasonable, provide safe transportation arrangements from the venue, or make sure employees have suitable arrangements in place.
  6. Make it clear when the event ends and remind employees that any ‘kick-on’ parties are subject to the same appropriate behaviour expectations.
  7. Ensure that the entertainment at the event is not considered offensive.
  8. Set guidelines for gift exchanges such as ‘Secret Santa’ to ensure they are not offensive, and set a dress code for the event to maintain the level of professionalism.
  9. Should rumours circulate address them promptly, regardless of whether a formal complaint has been made.
  10. If a complaint is made, investigate it immediately and thoroughly.

Finally remember, the festive season is the time to have some fun and reminisce on the year that was.

The Employment Law team at Everingham Solomons is well equipped to assist you with all your workplace relations issues because Helping You is Our Business.