The office Christmas party season will soon be in full swing again. Employers should be careful not to let celebrations get out of hand. A few practical steps can help prevent any embarrassing incidents, disciplinary action and potential litigation:
- Employees should be reminded in advance that workplace policies continue to apply and responsible behaviour is expected;
- A finishing time for the office party should be made known beforehand;
- One or more senior persons should be nominated to monitor the behaviour of staff at the party and intervene if unacceptable behaviour is occurring or about to occur;
- Food and non-alcoholic and low-alcoholic drinks should be readily available and there should be a limit on the amount of alcohol available;
- A safe means of transport such as a taxi should be arranged for any employees who have had too much to drink or who, if it is late at night, live a significant distance from the venue;
- Good humoured pranks should be discouraged as they can all too often go wrong;
- Supervisors should be alert to the risk of over familiar behaviour and inappropriate/insensitive talk;
- An assessment of safety risks should be undertaken if the employer is hosting the party themselves. Alternatively, enquiries should be made to ensure a host venue has a safe environment and a good safety record;
- It should be made clear that “after parties” are discouraged and not sanctioned by the employer;
- If any incidents do occur, they should be addressed as soon as practicable after the party.
Rob Stevenson will be away on leave from the close of business on 3 November 2017 and will return to the office on Tuesday 5 December 2017. Referral arrangements are in place for this period and we hope any inconvenience will be minimal.