Avoiding a post-holiday hangover
Throughout the Christmas period there is spike in occupational health and safety incidents and near misses, as well as a higher incidence in sexual harassment and discrimination claims. Headaches can be avoided through careful preparation and planning in the weeks leading up to the festive season.
Leading up to the end of the year, it is common that workers will be pushed to meet deadlines and to service heightened demands from clients and customers meeting their own deadlines. Under such pressure it is tempting for workers to take shortcuts in health and safety as well as to succumb to higher than usual levels of fatigue.
Enforcement of occupational health and safety procedures by all, particularly managers and directors, and the implementation of any necessary temporary procedures to ensure the health and safety, not only of employees, but also of contractors and visitors during this period are therefore critical.
With the flow of festive cheer at end-of-year functions, it is common for standards of conduct to slip and incidences of harassment, discrimination and bullying to arise. Where alcohol is to be served at an end-of-year function, policies around the responsible consumption of alcohol should also be updated and effectively communicated.
Prior to any end-of-year function, ensure that the company’s harassment, discrimination and bullying policy has been updated and all employees are trained not only in the company’s expectations with respect to employee conduct, but also in the procedure to be followed where an employee believes that they have been harassed, discriminated against or bullied. Such policies should not only address standards of conduct at social functions related to work, but also to the giving of gifts as part of Secret Santas. In Victoria, the introduction of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 in 2011 means that now is a particularly ideal time to have policies and procedures reviewed for compliance with new requirements.
The festive season is a time for employees to join with their employer in celebrating the achievements of the past year. With some basic planning and effective communication, your team will be fighting fit for a prosperous 2011.
Our Workplace Relations lawyers are able to assist with any questions you have regarding policies and claims.
Author: Katie Sweatman