The Office Christmas Party – Five (5) ways to protect your staff, and your Business

office christmas partyI spoke with my lawyer last week about my office Christmas party and what obligations and responsibilities I have to my staff and people attending.

The Christmas festive season is in full swing but it does not provide an excuse for inappropriate behaviour – bullying, harassment (including sexual), discrimination etc etc….

Most of us are just out to have a good time (within some limits) but who is responsible if things get ugly ?

The advice I received is Christmas parties occur as part of your employment so the employer is responsible for employee behaviour at the event – and employers have been found liable for employee inappropriate behaviour, comments or actions.

Business owners should be proactive to protect themselves from any claim – injuries suffered at a Christmas Party can also be subject to a worker’s compensation claim.

Doing nothing and hoping for the best doesn’t cut it anymore – here’s five (5) ways to protect your staff and yourself at this year’s Christmas Party:

1. Make staff aware the Christmas Party is a work event and responsible, respectful behaviour to required
2. Send an email to all employees reminding them of their responsibilities and refresh their memories on relevant workplace policies – provide training if necessary
3. Remind staff that bad behaviour may bring disciplinary action against them including employment termination
4. Specify start and finish times for the Christmas Party and anything happening outside these hours are undertaken by staff on their time and are not employer endorsed
4. Where possible organise for staff to travel home safely (taxi,bus charter, public transport)

Its a time to have some fun and celebrate Christmas with your staff and colleagues, but make sure it doesn’t cost you $$$ a lot more than the food and a round of drinks.