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December 2015

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which can spell trouble for HR Managers and practitioners with end of year celebrations kicking off.

Whether it’s an alcohol-fuelled request for a pay rise or an inappropriate declaration of love, there are many post-Christmas party horror stories.

eCompliance Training’s Top Tips

  1. Remind staff that normal work rules apply at the Christmas party; all employees should know the organisation’s code of conduct and other policies relating to behaviour, including sexual harassment and bullying policies.
  2. Monitor the behaviour of employees at the party and take action where required.
  3. Remember that it has been found that both the official party and ‘after parties’ may be considered ‘work’. Care should be taken to either avoid official or unofficial after parties, or require that managers or designated staff ensure company standards are maintained.

Social Media

Many organisations now have social media policies. Consideration should be given to reminding staff of what is and what is not appropriate use of social media. Something that you wouldn’t hash tag at 11.30am is still not OK to be hash tagged at 11.30pm after a few drinks.

Examples from the web

  • An employee who sexually harassed colleagues and told his bosses to f— off at a Christmas party was unfairly sacked; partly because the company had supplied him with a free flow of alcohol, the Fair Work Commission has found read more
  • A motor mechanic has lost his unfair dismissal bid before the Fair Work Commission after he was sacked for an alleged abusive outburst at his boss over work Christmas drinks read more
  • Highlighting the issue is not just problematic in Australia, at London Zoo’s Christmas party a zookeeper got into a fight with a colleague. The fight appeared to originate over another zookeeper’s former boyfriend who was by then dating another colleague read more

What if somebody alleges inappropriate behaviour?

In the event something goes wrong at the Christmas party, a commission or court may ask your organisation what ‘reasonable steps’ it took to prevent the alleged inappropriate behaviour.

At a minimum, your organisation should be able to point to:

  1. Clear, well communicated policies – complemented by
  2. Regular training
  3. An organisational culture that does not tolerate inappropriate behaviours, and where managers role model appropriate behaviour.

You can learn more about what ‘reasonable steps’ look like by clicking here.

eCompliance Training offers a range of online and face to face training solutions that deal with inappropriate workplace behaviours. Click here to view a sample, or call us on 1300 528 736 to arrange access to an obligation-free trial version, or to receive a proposal.

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