With the festive season upon us, employers are being urged to remind staff that inappropriate behavior will not be tolerated at Christmas parties.
The office party is an extension of the workplace which means employees are required to conduct themselves professionally and appropriately, just like they would at work.
At a webinar about managing workplace misconduct — the third in our HR Fundamentals series — Ai Group Workplace Lawyers Legal Practitioner Director Daniel Murray said behavioral issues stemming from Christmas parties were common.
“People get the wrong idea,” he said.
“They think it’s a party and therefore they are off the leash, but that’s not the case.
“If you’re organising a work party, you need to remind staff that it’s a work activity governed by company policies.
“Your duty in relation to safety continues to apply, and you need to make that point very clear to employees by spelling out the rules before the party.
“Let them know what the expectations are and circulate policies, including the code of conduct and the grievance process.”
Consider these factors when planning your office Christmas party:
- Ensure employees drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
- Plan to have food and non-alcoholic beverage options available, not just alcohol.
- Consider putting caps on how much people can drink rather than having an open bar.
- Also, consider the types of alcohol you provide: beer and wine, for example, but not spirits.
“Avoid letting people get legless because that’s when things happen,” Mr Murray said.
“People say and do things that are untoward, with misbehavior such as fights and sexual harassment often the consequence.”
- Consider having a few designated, non-drinking staff members to oversee behavior.
- Provide a finishing time for the party and make it clear that if employees wish to “kick on”, ongoing celebrations are not considered part of the work function and therefore not privy to the business’ codes of conduct and discipline policies.
- If you provide alcohol at a workplace Christmas party, ensure employees can get home safely. Consider a venue accessible by public transport or providing transport, if public transport isn’t an option.
If you require advice or assistance in planning for a safe and incident-free Christmas event, Ai Group Workplace Lawyers are available to help. We can also assist if you have incidents of misconduct occurring at work, whether or not related to a Christmas function.
Please contact Ai Group Workplace Lawyers on 1300 55 66 77 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.