Reminding you of potential issues arising from work functions
It is that time of year again. Drinks and social functions with clients and staff Christmas parties are happening all around Australia. Unfortunately though, it sometimes does not always turn out to be the fun and enjoyable occasion it is intended to be. In fact many an incident has occurred leading to claims for compensation.
Staff, even though they are at client functions and Christmas parties remain employed by the Company. Therefore if they are injured during the evening, it will be a Workers compensation claim under most legislation.
There is a duty of care in common law to provide a safe workplace and protect the employees. Make sure the venue chosen is safe and little chance of injury. The venue or property owner may also be liable if an injury occurred. However, the duty of care of an employer is not able to be taken away and therefore their responsibility will likely also remain even when the venue is at fault
Occupational Health and Safety penalties should a breach occur still apply
Employers are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees, and this includes discrimination and harassment. Do not let policies that apply all year be ignored because there is a party. Alcohol does not always bring out the best behaviour in everyone
Remember the boundaries and relationships that exist during the working day. You need to maintain these and not disclose confidential information, or in other way change the parameters of those relationships during the function.
These obligations must continue on into the night if the party moves to a pub or night club, especially when management attends and the corporate card goes over the bar.
Suggestions for employers
Check the premises for safety and whether they have appropriate risk management procedures in place
Make sure staff are aware of the company’s occupational health and safety, drug and alcohol policies and if necessary have them reviewed.
Provide enough food and water with any alcohol
Be aware of guests dietary requirements, including allergies as well as moral or religious diets
Make sure appropriate security is available in case there is the possibility of gatecrashers
Monitor the function and provide assistance to anyone who appears to be becoming affected by alcohol
Intervene immediately if any potential conflict situation occurs
If there is sudden illness or injury, call an ambulance straight away
Make sure you have an end time for the event and make arrangements that this is announced at that time
Where possible provide assistance for staff to get home such as taxi or cab charge vouchers.
Remember this is a function for the Company to thank staff, clients or suppliers and is not a night out like you would have with your own personal friends
Remember to eat when you drink, and keep drinking water
At client functions, remain dignified and in control, regardless of how much fun the clients seem to be having. You are technically the hosts.
Dress sensibly and conservatively rather than something that leaves little for the imagination
Avoid drunken career limiting moves such as telling the Boss how hopeless he is.
Keep the above in mind and you should have a successful event ready for a merry Christmas and a happy new year!