December is an exciting month for employees with Christmas
functions, closing out a busy year and pending holidays. Throw in
the celebratory drinks and it can be a dangerous mix. Inebriated
employees may act out of character and in a manner that goes beyond
appropriate workplace behaviour, potentially leading to claims of
bullying, harassment and other allegations.
Employers should consider the following when taking steps to
proactively manage employee behaviour at Christmas functions:
Policies - an employer should have clear and
accessible policies in place that unambiguously identify
Timely reminder - employees should be reminded
of what is expected of them as well as what constitutes
unacceptable conduct before the festivities. This can be done by
sending an email to employees pre-event.
Safety - during work-related social events,
including those held off-site, the employer remains responsible for
employees' safety. This obligation includes reminding employees
of their safety obligations to colleagues, reminding employees to
drink responsibly and to behave appropriately, and to ensure the
venue at which the function will be at is safe. Consideration
should be given to providing transport home from functions, such as
taxis, or that the function is in close proximity to public
Clever catering - employers should ensure
there is adequate food available and that alcoholic and
non-alcoholic beverages are available.
Responsible adult - identify a manager who
will remain sober during the event to monitor employee behaviour,
intervene if necessary and be the point person for any issues
regarding behaviour during the function.
No excuse - an off-site venue for a Christmas
function is an extension of the workplace, so being out of the
office does not provide an excuse for inappropriate behaviour.
Disciplinary action - any misconduct during a
Christmas function held off-site should be dealt with in the same
manner as misconduct in the workplace. Allegations should be made
promptly and then fully investigated. Any disciplinary action taken
should be in proportion to the level of misconduct.
With a little pre-planning and consideration of the points
above, employers can better-manage the risks that arise when
alcohol is served at end-of-year festivities and allow everyone to
have an enjoyable time.
This article was originally published in the November/December
2016 issue of Plumbing
SA Magazine and is republished here with their kind
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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