Your Christmas Party ‘Message’

We are aware that the festive season has already begun for some of you, however, we thought it would be helpful to provide you with some assistance in sending out a ‘last minute reminder’ to staff about expectations of appropriate and safe behaviour.

The reality is that the responsible service of alcohol message is now so well known that failure to provide it will inevitably result in problems for the employer and if you haven’t provided a workplace behaviour training refresher, updated or reviewed your policies and procedures then you are probably too late at this stage of the year.

These messages were again highlighted by the Fair Work Commission in Keenan v Leighton Boral Amey Joint Venture [2015] FWC 3156.  FWC in assessing the behaviour of an employee at a Christmas Party in 2014 determined that the employee was unfairly dismissed because, despite his inappropriate behaviour which primarily involved groping and s*xually suggestive discussions at the ‘after party’, the employer had acted unreasonably by providing unlimited alcohol, and failed to adequately monitor the intake of the alcohol or the behaviour of the employees.

To put your organisation in the best position to proactively manage this year’s social events we recommend tailoring something similar to the following generic message:

“Dear staff (or however you normally address them)

The Christmas party is now only [time] (eg a couple of days away, next week etc), so it is that time again where I communicate some of the aspects of the party which will allow everyone to have a great night and get home safely.

General Behaviour

Everyone has a duty of care in relation to health and safety, so please look after yourself and each other during the night.
Please make sure that you familiarise yourself with the [applicable policy/ procedure].  It is available [location] (eg intranet link or hardcopy placed somewhere).

Alcohol

If you are planning to drink alcohol, please ensure that you drink responsibly.  There will be plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available on the night, and there will also be plenty of food, so please make sure you eat properly.

Transport

If you are drinking alcohol you should not drive.  Please make sure you have pre-arranged a safe mode of transport home (or if the company is providing transport or cab vouchers etc set out details).

Photographs

If you take photos on the night, make sure you get permission from those in the photos before uploading onto Facebook or other social media sites. You should familiarise yourself with the [applicable policy/ procedure].  It is available [location] (eg intranet link or hardcopy placed somewhere).  (or there will be a company camera in use during the night to capture the evening etc).

Contacts

If you have any concerns about the above, or have any issues on the night, please talk to [nominated responsible people etc]. Also, if one of these people ask you to not do something or behave in line with our expectations, please do so without any ‘fuss’. 

Above all have a great night and please stay safe.”

If you have any queries about this article or would like further information, please contact David Dilger (ddilger@pageseager.com.au)Rod Collinson (rcollinson@pageseager.com.au) or Luke Gattuso (lgattuso@pageseager.com.au).

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