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'Tis the season to get sacked

“What I don’t like about office Christmas parties is looking for a job the next day.” - Phyllis Diller

So your Christmas work party promises to be a cracker this year?

Big bar tab, lavish dinner?

Pub get together with free drinks and some fabulous karaoke?

Whatever is planned, employers and employees should take note of the following advice:

  • Work Christmas parties are an extension of the workplace. Just because the party is not held on the work site or within work hours does not mean the do is a free-for-all.

  • While everyone is encouraged to relax and enjoy some down time, and everyone knows that some people will drink a little too much alcohol, all staff need to carefully balance the fun with maintaining a safe and respectful environment.

  • Employers need to be aware that they have a duty of care to take reasonable steps towards ensuring staff safety. If the party is at a private venue, employers should ensure that the principles of responsible service of alcohol are observed. This might mean controlling the extent to which employees can help themselves to alcoholic drinks and making sure that there is plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks available.

  • Both employers and employees are expected to engage in appropriate behaviour and comply with workplace policies. Swearing at the boss, making an unwelcome proposition to another staff member, or having an altercation with a fellow employee is unacceptable.

  • Employees need to be aware that their conduct at the work Christmas party can affect their employment. Don’t let the fun and frivolity tip over into conduct which attracts a disciplinary warning – or worse, termination.

  • Employers should clearly convey to staff what will be expected:

  • Have clear start and finish times.

  • Send around an email just before the event reminding employees that it is a work party, that they will be expected to engage in appropriate behaviour and comply with workplace policies, and that unacceptable behaviour will place the employee at risk of disciplinary action.

While all this advice sounds a bit dull and boring, most employees would rather wake up tomorrow with their dignity intact and a clear head than have a crazy night on the booze and lose their job.

Afterall, it is only one night!!

Contact Kate Simpson for all your employment law advice.

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