THE office Christmas Party season is getting into full swing – and it’s a fun time.
But the festive celebrations can become a legal minefield for employers if things get out of hand and they don’t have appropriate policies in place to deal with the potential fall-out.
Leading Human Resource specialists, Perth-based Fairways HR today issued a helpful list for staff revellers so they can have fun while reminding bosses of their legal obligations.
“It’s all about organisations planning ahead so that everyone can let their hair down but also letting employees know what behaviour will not be tolerated,” said Fairways managing director, Liz Jackson.
“There are many things to consider and, obviously, alcohol issues are high up the list as is discrimination.
“But, if employers have in place guidelines and policies on, for example, harassment or inappropriate behaviour and staff are made aware of them, then possible legal pitfalls can be avoided.”
Liz and her team at Fairways have come up with a list of measures to combat legal fall-out from corporate festivities that include:
• Plan ahead and consider who is to be invited – is it all staff or staff plus partners? Don’t forget there may be same sex partners and non-Christian faiths
• Consider food and refreshment requirements for the various religions attending – provide options.
• Limit the amount of alcohol available to ensure a duty of care towards staff
• Offer non-alcoholic alternatives for those who don’t drink or are under-18
• Nominate designated drivers or provide transport to get staff home safely
• Have clear guidelines and policies in place stating that harassment or inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated – employers are responsible for employees’ actions
“It’s better but not always possible to have a function at the end of the working week,” said Liz.
“This means that policies need to be in place with employers clearly stating they expect staff to be at work the day after a party if this is a working day, and that they are in a fit state to work.”
She suggested that employers should give themselves ‘additional protection’ by ensuring all staff are aware of company policies including Equal Opportunities and Diversity, and Bullying and Harassment.
Liz also points out that unauthorised use of company credit/debit cards is happening more and more with some startling results – for example, where a member of staff has been authorised to use the company’s credit/debit card at social events and spends far more than expected.
“This is another area where employers should ensure their company is properly protected and have clear guidelines as to what is and is not acceptable expenditure,” she said.
“It is vital that employers have the right policies in place for their organisation.
“This time of year is great for everyone to get together to have a good time and there should be no lasting hangover if they follow these suggestions.”
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