The Work Christmas Party can lead to claims early in the year. A sample of some of the claims our office at NB Lawyers – lawyers for employers have seen include:
- workplace bullying claims
- sexual harassment claims
- workers compensation applications
- general protections claims
- disputes and complaints under policy and procedure
- accusations of a criminal nature including assault.
If you really think about it there are a number of legal issues that arise from a work environment where employees let their “hair down” – especially when it includes a fine bottle of pinot or a Glendronach or two.
For Human Resources, preventive action can save a lot of reactionary work in the New Year. Here’s what you need to know to protect your business, while still having a great time at the work Christmas party.
Our top three (3) tips for employers
For employers planning (or have already planned) their Christmas party, keep in mind the following:
Tip 1 – Clarify the scope of the event
- Specify the hours which will constitute the ‘official’ work Christmas party. Any private arrangements between employees afterwards would not form part of the Christmas party. Employees bear their own risks when attending non-official events.
- Ensure staff are reminded workplace policies will apply during the ‘official’ event.
- If non-employees are attending (such as family members, guests or clients), consider reminding employees, in writing, of appropriate standards of behaviour.
Tip 2 – Conduct refresher training on policies
- If there is a code of conduct or appropriate behaviour policy in place, consider undertaking brief refresher training in advance of the Christmas party with employees.
- Consider whether there are appropriate safeguards in place for pictures being taken by employees at the Christmas party. Think about whether you need to issue any directions to your employees to avoid posting inappropriate pictures of the Christmas party.
- Emphasise any social media policies which are in place.
- Ensure your senior employees are reminded of the need to supervise junior employees and display exemplary behaviour consistent with workplace policies.
Tip 3 – Planning ahead of the Christmas party
- Inform employees who they can confidentially report their concerns to in the event of an incident at a work Christmas party. Be prepared to conduct an investigation at short notice.
- If alcohol is being consumed, ensure employees are not drinking to an excess and increasing the risk of injuring themselves. Manage health and safety obligations such as by ensuring employees are provided with transportation.
As the lawyers for employers, we can provide employers with salient advice prior to and after a work Christmas party.
Jonathan Mamaril leads a team of handpicked experts in the areas of employment law and commercial law who focus on educating clients to avoid headaches, provide advice on issues before they fester and when action needs to be taken and there is a problem mitigate risk and liability. With a core value of helping first and providing practical advice, Jonathan is a sought after advisor to a number of Employers and as a speaker for forums and seminars.