Q&A Industrial Relations & Legal Adviser Malvin Khaira
Q: Our Christmas Party function is around the corner, what should we be aware of at the function itself?
A: Safety! If discrimination or harassment occurs at a work function organised by the employer, the employer is likely to be vicariously liable for such behaviour unless they can show that they took all reasonable steps to reduce, mitigate and manage the conduct.
If alcoholic drinks are served, at least one senior staff member should be monitoring employee consumption of alcohol and behaviour at the function. If an employee is alcohol impaired, you should not be serving him or her with any more drinks. Continuing to serve an employee with drinks when he or she is alcohol impaired can give rise to liability under the law of negligence. This liability can be extended to an accident that involves an employee travelling home from a work function. The senior staff member should have sufficient authority to have a quiet word when necessary to limit or stop individuals or event wide drinking of alcohol.
You should also ensure that employees who ‘kick on’ after the function, are made aware that this is not part of the work function and as such is not sanctioned or supported by the organisation.
If you are an MBA ACT member and have any Industrial Relations or Legal queries please feel free to contact Malvin at 6175 5900.