How to manage the Office Christmas Party

How to manage the Office Christmas Party!

November 29, 2017 | By Vanessa Wilson, Vitil

The festive season is upon us and as we all get into the Christmas spirit it's time to organise the office party. As a Perth Manager or Business Owner there are some Human Resource needs you must be mindful of, as well as your ongoing HR and Safety responsibilities and obligations.

In many cases, Perth employers have been found to be vicariously liable for the inappropriate conduct and actions of their employees at work related events. And work Christmas parties can be deemed as employer-sponsored events; that means you as an employer, are responsible for your employee's behaviour, whether off-site or on-site. Therefore, it is vital to ensure your team know what behaviour is acceptable and the policies you have regarding workplace health and safety, anti-discrimination, harassment and bullying in the workplace.

To assist you, here are some of the commonly asked questions and the corresponding preventative measures that Perth businesses can take to avoid inappropriate behaviour from their Human Resource Capital.

How do I avoid a team member acting inappropriately?

There are several factors to consider should a team member do the unthinkable, and act inappropriately at a work-related function.

In the first instance, before the Christmas party, make sure you or your internal Human Resource service stipulates what you consider acceptable behaviour and the consequences of a breach, ie this could result in disciplinary action or being asked to leave the function.

You can do this by having the correct policy in place and sending out an email prior to the Christmas party to reinforce the policy, your employees responsibility at a function and that respectful behaviour is required by all attendees.

Can the business provide alcohol?

The business can provide alcohol but ensure it is served responsibly and there is enough food and non-alcoholic drinks available. It is always wise to limit the alcohol served to beer, wine and soft drink. Stay away from spirits and have a bar tab that runs out prior to closing time. And ensure under-age employees do not have access to alcohol.

In Keenan vs Leighton Boral FWC 3156 Mr Keenan was terminated for inappropriate behaviour at a workplace function, and his case for unfair dismissal compensation was upheld. The Commission found that the termination was harsh and unfair. It was accepted Mr Keenan should have been disciplined for his behaviour, but not terminated. An important factor was that Leighton Boral had provided free and unlimited alcohol and therefore were partly responsible.

What if the partygoers continue to another venue?

When organising the office party, make it clear in the beginning, the start and finish time of the 'work' function. Offer taxi vouchers or a bus to take the team home, or arrange some designated drivers.

Always have a designated sober manager to oversee the event and ensure everyone has a good time. Also provide clear direction to middle management to head home once the formal business function ends.

What happens if an incident occurs?

Should an incident occur, it is important to take action promptly and start an investigation ensuring procedural fairness is followed. Interview those involved in the incident, take notes and then put the allegations to the employee concerned. Based on the information, the Perth Manager should consult their Human Resource Service and then make an informed decision on the outcome, communicating their reasoning to the employee, which must also be put in writing.

Christmas parties are an important part of the Perth Australian culture, and can be a fantastic way to say thank you to your Human Resource Capital, raise morale and promote teamwork. Therefore, preparing for a Christmas party is important, being clear on your expectations and putting in place some of the preventative measures, will ensure a good time is had by all.

Vitil Human Resource Consultants

Vitil's Human Resource Consultants are a boutique HR consulting firm based across Perth, who offer flexible, reliable and affordable outsourced human resource support and recruitment services, where your team is the key focus. By outsourcing HR to an expert in Human Resource Services, our experienced professionals can objectively assess your environment, your human capital needs, and ensure we provide advice and support to further develop your team and your businesses performance.

Contact us to discuss tailoring HR solutions to your business needs.

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