Misconduct Training Christmas Parties

Misconduct Training Christmas Parties, misconduct at office Christmas parties can be a nightmare for businesses and HR professionals. When the end of year wind down includes alcohol, it can lead to bad behaviour, regrettable romances and at times fights. It is important to remember that employers have a duty of care to take all reasonable steps to prevent their employees from being subjected to harassment, sexual harassment and other forms of misconduct and that the duty extends to staff functions including Christmas parties.

Here are some suggestions to avoid the problems;

  • Take the time to prepare for potential problems –  Review your policies to ensure that they cover the behavioural expectations of your organisation and extend to out of work functions.
  • Communicate & Train.  Prior to the end of year function conduct training to remind your staff  of the following;
    • That the Christmas party is a work function and that the behavioural expectations of the workplace still apply
    • Bad behaviour will not be accepted
    • Bad behaviour that breaches a company policy could result in disciplinary action
    • This is also a great time to reinforce, train or retrain staff on your sexual harassment and workplace bullying policies
    • Incidents of misconduct will be investigated
  • Have control over catering to ensure food if available when alcohol is being served and also ensure the responsible service of alcohol including offering alternatives such as water, soft drinks etc
  • Consider the venue, make sure it is appropriate, consider the location re access to public transport and safety when leaving the venue
  • Set up emergency contacts for staff if they experience any issues on the night or are subject to inappropriate behaviour.
  • Reinforce your social media policy especially when it comes to posting photos or comments about the Christmas party, other staff members or the business.

In the event of misconduct at the work Christmas party and a complaint is received as an employer you are responsible for the actions of your employees towards each other. In the event that an incident has occurred and a complaint has been made, employers should deal with it fairly and swiftly. Never dismiss a complaint as ‘nothing’ or ‘just banter’. Investigations should be conducted professionally and thoroughly – failure to do so could result in an additional complaint against the company for discrimination. Equally, senior management should act to deal with inappropriate behaviour as and when it is happening.

Misconduct Training Christmas Parties – Things that employers should consider

  1. The need for a thorough and professional investigation as soon as possible?
    It is best not to wait to long to appoint an interval or external investigator.  Delaying the investigation could result in criticism from external agencies such as the FWC if the outcome is to dismiss the person subject of a complaint and the strong possibility of losing an unfair dismissal matter.
    Not sure of you should use an internal or external investigator, these articles may assist you –
    Workplace investigation DIY or call in an expert
    Choosing a workplace investigator
    The advantages of having a qualified workplace investigator on speed dial
  2. Is the business closing down over Christmas.
    Waiting until staff return from holidays or after a close down period may result in the lose of vital evidence
  3. Will the investigator have access to the relevant parties during the Christmas or close down period?
    It is suggested that you advise your staff during your pre-party training that if misconduct occurs staff may have to make themselves available to be interviewed during the close down period. In his case interviews are often conducted via the phone if staff are away on holidays.
  4. Does the conduct warrant suspension?
    You must consider the effect that the person subject of the complaint will have by remaining in the workplace, how will this effect the complainant and/or witnesses, is there a possibility of victimisation or contamination of evidence.
  5. Have you followed your behavioural, performance and discipline policies and ensured that you afforded procedural fairness
    Failure to do so could render a dismissal unfair at the FWC
  6. Don’t allow operational issues to effect the outcome of a decision to dismiss.
    If the behaviour warrants termination, you cannot wait until is it best for the business to dismiss the employee. The Christmas period and January may present operational issues but if you are terminating an employee for misconduct it cannot be at your convenience
  7. Summary dismissal
    Even in the case of serious misconduct, summary dismissal is not appropriate if you have waited until after Christmas or into the New Year to conduct the investigation and then terminate the employee.
    Not sure about serious misconduct and summary dismissal, articles here may help

The Christmas party is a time to have fun and wind down for the year. Good behaviour is simply a matter of common sense.

AWPTI can assist you by providing Misconduct Training Christmas Parties for your employees, check out our Misconduct at Workplace events (Conferences & Christmas parties) program on our Employee training page and help to reduce your compliance risks. The training is best conducts a couple of week prior to you event to ensure it is fresh in your employees mind.

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