With the festive season just around the corner your organisation should have your end of year Christmas party locked in. Corporate Christmas parties are organised to boost employee morale, reward staff and improve employee relationships. Instead, recent times have seen more of these yearly celebrations resulting in costly sexual harassment litigation.
Now is the best time to implement a diversity and equality compliance training program if you haven’t already. If you already have a Code of Conduct or Workplace Behaviour program in place, you are on track and should consider running your employees through a refresher course.
The festive season’s high social aspects make it particularly prone to unfortunate workplace behaviour incidents, particularly at external venues where alcohol is present. Corporate functions taking place outside of the office with a relaxed atmosphere make it easy for staff to lose their bearings. As a result, staff are unable to distinguish between inappropriate and normally acceptable office behaviour.
Regardless of where the event is held, corporate celebrations are considered a work activity under workplace-related legislation and employers will be liable. Employers are responsible for ensuring the safety of all employees at any work-related function just as they are when employees are carrying out their day-to-day activities. It is the employer’s responsibility to take steps to prevent inappropriate conduct from occurring whether through online compliance or face-to-face training.
Training staff so that they know their rights and abide by your workplace code of conduct is the best preventative measure. The consequences of non-compliance should also be laid out clearly.
In 2012, 71% of managers reported having to discipline staff over violence, discrimination and harassment at their Christmas party. On average, sexual harassment settlements cost between $15,000 and $25,000 in Australia, not to mention the huge impact of reputational damage.
GRC Solutions can also provide customised Code of Conduct training for your organisation.