With the holiday season just around the corner, employers often take the opportunity to gather their employees together for fun social events. While staff events should be a joyous occasion for all, employers should remain mindful of their continued duty towards their employees when hosting such events.
Whether the staff party is organised at the office or not, the employer must ensure acceptable behaviour by all employees in work-related social events. Thus, measures can be undertaken by the employer to prevent any potential liability;
i. Limit alcohol consumption
The employer should be wary on alcohol consumption at the event since it could lead to unacceptable behaviour. Alcohol consumption in a less-informal atmosphere could potentially mean that there are increased risks of unacceptable behaviour, and hence the employer must ensure that improper behaviour continues to be strictly forbidden.
Employers should also take proper steps to prevent employees from driving. Employees should be urged to make driving arrangements, or else, it could be a more viable option to consider arranging transport. A good preventive step may be to close the bar a couple of hours before the end of the event.
ii. Implement policies and procedures
Employers need to educate employees about the expected standards of behaviour and have mechanisms in place to prevent any issues arising. Employees should be reminded that policies already in place such as the code of conduct, health and safety, harassment, discrimination and bullying will still be applicable. A copy of such policies could be given out to the employees so that they are aware of the acceptable standards of behaviour. Another option is to have a specific policy entitled Social Events Policy and this will ensure that your employees know exactly what is expected from them.
There should be a system of monitoring to ensure responsible alcohol consumption and maintain acceptable standards of behaviour. This would allow a prompt response to any issue or complaint, and further escalations are prevented. In the case where certain employee/s behaviour gets out of hand, they should also be asked to leave.
The system of monitoring should be entrusted to management employees. Employees would be able to report any incidents to such management, and therefore prior to the event they should be informed of the identity of such supervisors. Members of the host venue should also be informed of the arrangement.
And to conclude…
This does not mean that social events cannot be fun, to the contrary they can be enjoyable without the headaches that they may bring with them!