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7 tips for an incident-free Christmas party

Monday, 1st December 2014, by Loran McDougall

In today's Workplace Bulletin:
  • 7 ways to avoid inappropriate behaviour at your work functions
Dear Reader,

The silly season has rolled around again, and no doubt many of you are in the midst of planning your Christmas functions.
Keep in mind that alcohol, combined with an informal atmosphere, can increase the likelihood that the following will occur:
  • injuries;
  • inappropriate sexual conduct;
  • unacceptable behaviour;
  • fights; and
  • damage to your business’s reputation.
In fact, a recent Australian Drug Foundation poll found that one in five Victorian employees have experienced unwanted or inappropriate behaviour from an intoxicated person at a work function, and three in 100 have suffered an injury as a result of being intoxicated at a work function.
To help you ensure that your Christmas function runs smoothly, Charles Power has compiled a list of tips to reduce the potential for inappropriate behaviour.
But before we get to that, I’d just like to mention an important new resource we’ll be launching later this week.
Expert workplace investigators Grevis Beard, Rose Bryant-Smith and Lisa Klug have conducted hundreds of workplace investigations for organisations of all sizes and from all sectors. Now they’ve decided to share their collective experience and insights in a practical tool that businesses can use to conduct a robust investigation themselves.
There’ll be an opportunity for you to purchase their new eBook Effective Workplace Investigations at a special price when it first goes on sale. I’ll have more details in the coming days.
Until next time,
Jessica Oldfield
Loran McDougall
Workplace Bulletin
Any process that may pose a safety risk in your workplace must have a safe operating procedure.

7 ways to avoid inappropriate behaviour at your work functions
by Charles Power
Editor-in-Chief, Employment Law Practical Handbook
Taking the following steps will help you to reduce the chances that inappropriate behaviour – and subsequent legal action! – will occur at your work functions:
  1. Ensure employees understand that the rules for appropriate workplace behaviour also apply at work functions – consider promoting your code of conduct prior to the function so everyone knows what is expected of them.
  2. Limit employees’ ability to consume excessive amounts of alcohol. You could do this by:
    • not making alcohol the focus of your function;
    • avoiding table service and top-ups to make it easier for employees to keep track of how many drinks they have had;
    • not serving alcohol during speeches and other formalities;
    • providing plenty of free water and other non-alcoholic drinks;
    • limiting drinks to beer and wine and avoiding serving drinks with a high alcohol content; and
    • ensuring there is enough food provided and that all dietary requirements are catered for.
  3. Remind employees that it is their responsibility to drink alcohol responsibly and legally.
  4. Ensure that all employees are aware of the repercussions of excess drinking and of the legal driving limits.
  5. Provide transport or taxi vouchers to ensure employees get to and from the function safely.
  6. Plan for managing intoxicated guests.
  7. Designate an employee to monitor behaviour during the function.
Taking these steps will put you in a better position to defend any harassment or discrimination claim, on the grounds that you took reasonable steps to prevent it from occurring.
Charles Power
Charles Power

Employment Law Practical Handbook

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