As an employer, you could be responsible for the actions of your
employees and your contractors at the Christmas Party.
As an employee, you have an increasing level of personal
responsibility in an era where instant, far reaching communication
tools are readily available.
Even now, Human Resources (HR) professionals and employment
lawyers are already managing fallout from 2010 Christmas events and
in particular from online social networking gone wrong. An
increasing trend is sexual harassment of men by women.
Sometime since Christmas last year, and despite recent high
profile sexual harassment cases in the media, some workplaces have
seen staff forget about Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and
Sexual Harassment policies. And ignorance of how these still apply
to social networking usage will not be an excuse in the ensuing
January workplace investigation.
Yes, it used to be what people did at the work party or event
that could land them into trouble. Now, their publicly expressed
opinions about and recordings of what happens at the work party or
event can resonate long after the send key is pressed on Twitter or
Employers and employees should take precautions. It is
imperative that employees and managers are more aware of what
conduct is acceptable at or following a Christmas party.
think carefully and read one more time before hitting
"send" on that message post or photo/video tag to a
social networking site
ensure that privacy settings on social networking sites such as
Facebook are set to only allow trusted (non-work colleague)
"friends" to view your page
think twice before publishing those embarrassing photos and
videos of the party to the web
regularly check your privacy settings on social networking
check via a "friend of a friend" exactly what
information, photos or posts any number of persons unknown to you
could be viewing on your "wall".
Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are
experiencing exponential increases in usage. Employee use that is
relevant to work can be the same as operating in the
"workplace", and therefore carry the same rights and
responsibilities and are subject to workplace policies. An opinion
posted can be considered work-related if an employee is stating the
about other employees or their employer
to other employees or business stakeholders, or
to anyone in the virtual world who may be following or
accessing their opinions, which are connected to their work or what
it is they do.
Employees have the option of exercising caution in their privacy
settings. If they do not do so, and make comments in any of these
categories, they are placing their employment at risk.
nominate an event manager for the party
arrange the time for drinks to finish and the party to end
have a system in place for the employees to be allocated
send an email to all staff and managers in the days leading up
to the Christmas party reminding them of behaviour that is
acceptable, referring and attaching policies, and advising
participants of the finish time
ban official after-parties, and use of company cards at any
unofficial after-parties to pay for drinks.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
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