Christmas in your Workplace – Office parties, workplace gatherings, and after-work drinking sessions are all beckoning. Now the Christmas festivities are calling – most employers are looking to treat their employees by allowing a little frivolity and fun to slip into the daily routine.  However, the season that should extend good will to all men – often doesn’t, and for some women not at all.

Parties can be a lot of fun, but for some, they are simply humiliation, bullying, harassment and general misery. 

We have a couple of years when things have been scaled back because of COVID-19 restrictions so this year may be seen as a celebration above all other celebrations and may also become out of hand. This is when employers need to be prepared and have the expectations set out clearly PRIOR to the party season. This includes making sure the following policies are updated.

  • ✅Fitness for Work Drug and Alcohol Risk Management Policy and Procedures
  • ✅ Dispute and Resolution Policy and Personal Grievance policy and procedure
  • ✅ Disciplinary Procedure
  • ✅ Code of conduct
  • ✅ Sexual Harassment Policy

The imbalances of authority in workplace relationships in the daytime, are played out in a formal and controlled way. However when too much alcohol gives rise to a loss of inhibition, at the office get-together, then a sense of entitlement can increase rapidly.  Drunken men, or indeed women, without the tethers of formality, may think it just fine to place his (or her) hands on the student intern, or force kisses and embraces on the nurse in the medical room, or indeed do much worse to any of his or her colleagues, and may, when rebuffed, become obnoxious, to save loss of face and pride.  Many women, and men too, have suffered bullying and harassment both in the party and afterwards at work when the cold light of day returns.

It is important that everyone learn what their rights are in situations like this and it is crucial that employers look at themselves and make sure that members of their Senior Management Teams, Heads of Departments and staff teams are fully aware of how they should behave toward each other.  Australia has anti-bullying laws that are very helpful but not everyone knows about them.  Fresh HR Insights can help workplaces and staff groups how to deal with these kinds of issues, give guidance on processes that support staff who have complaints, and generally help workplaces set standards to avoid bullying and harassment whatever the cause.

We, at Fresh HR Insights Pty Ltd recommend that you have the following policies and Procedures in place as set out above (as a minimum) prior to the festive season and ensure that you have communicated these to your team(s). We have also given a further list below that we additionally recommend that you have in place

  • Professional and personal relationships at work
  • Conduct at work related events and work related trips
  • Workplace Bullying Policy
  • Anti-Discrimination and Equal opportunities policy
  • Termination and Resignation
  • Attendance and absence

So, our advice for the coming festivities is to enjoy the fun and the merriment but stay aware of everyone’s rights at work. Be prepared by having your expectations communicated. Drop out an email prior to the event to let everyone know what is expected and what is not tolerated.

Happy Festive Season