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I was in one of the large Department stores the other day, standing in the queue for the checkout and caught sight of the display shelving behind me, Christmas cards, gift wrap, etc- and remembered it's yet another thing to get organised about! So, this reminded me of the annual Christmas and New Year party affair. What was it to be this year? I’m sure a lot of Employers out there have had their flavour of seasonal dramas. Christmas and New Year Parties, dinners, balls, night-out, whatever form they might take… We are here talking about the source of the January grievance build up. From the ‘just talking way too much’ on one end of the spectrum to the ‘throwing-up collapsing and curled up in a crumpled heap’ in the lobby of the not -so -cheap venue, which you booked after months of planning. This in full view of your VIP guests, your suppliers, valued clients, people from head office, directors, majority shareholders… Basically everyone you wouldn’t want going away and thinking of you and more importantly, your business as the ‘crumpled heap’ scene. These things (and worse) do happen though, year after year. It may lend in some instances thirty- second entertainment value but the potential impact on your reputation could be devastating. In a nutshell, Employers need to let their Employees know that they need to be in control of their senses, even at work social functions. There have to be boundaries, which need to be adhered to and you as an Employer will not tolerate any out-of-control behaviour –there will be consequences in the form of disciplinary. After all, a work party is deemed an extension of the work place when organised through Employment and with work colleagues attending.  The last thing you need is wasted management time, money and resources in dealing with grievances. This could be anything from unwanted sexual advances, harassment of another work colleague or alcohol fuelled violence. You want everyone to have a good time and a successful event. It is a great opportunity to reward your staff and create some positive spirit within your company. 
  • Christmas functions and work-related parties, where even small number of work Employees are attending could be regarded as an extension of the workplace.
  • Have you got appropriate guidelines and policies in place for staff, it’s all very well them existing but are they up to date, do they deal with all issues and are employees aware of their existence
  • Is your staff handbook up to date
  • Be sensitive and aware of your obligations in relation to getting staff safely home especially those that may be vulnerable
  • Remember to cater for needs eg. Vegetarian diets/allergies, disabled Employees
  • You can’t oblige Employees to attend not everyone may be inclined or able to
  • Do however ensure you invite all Employees, including those that may have been away or on leave, part-time and casual Employees.
Once you considered your risks fully, you will be in a position to relax and look forward to a successful, enjoyable function.   Rafiya Shaikh - LawBite Comercial LawBrief. For further legal advice you can contact Rafiya via our online legal advice portal.     

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