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Workplace Christmas Party Pitfalls

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By James Sanders, Associate, MST Lawyers

To celebrate the end of another year and thank staff for their ongoing support, employers will often invite their staff to attend a social gathering.  As these events generally involve large amounts of alcohol which can lead to inappropriate behaviour, this time of year is potentially quite dangerous for employers and employees alike.

Prior to hosting the annual Christmas party, it is recommended that employers send a reminder email to employees advising them that the Christmas Party is a work function; an extension of their employment, and inappropriate behaviour is not acceptable.

It is recommended that the email contains, as a minimum:

  1. A list and copy of appropriate workplace policies (or internal links to the policies). This may include Drug and Alcohol, Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Complaints policies;
  1. A direction detailing that the use of illicit drugs and excessive drinking (of the alcoholic kind) will not be tolerated;
  1. A warning that inappropriate actions arising from the Christmas party are open to disciplinary actions that may include termination of employment;
  1. Reminders to employees of their obligations in relation to drink driving laws. Provision of  alternative travel options should be provided, including:
    1. a staff bus (if applicable);
    2. sharing taxis with colleagues;
    3. catching public transport;
    4. carpooling; or
    5. arranging to be collected by a friend or relative.
  1. Employees should be made aware of who they can contact during, or after, the Christmas party if they feel they were the victim of inappropriate actions by another employee.

For more information, please contact our Employment Law and Workplace Safety team by email or by telephone Ph: +61 3 8540 0200.