An employee handbook conveys what is important to you and what kind of behaviours you perceive most desirable within your business. A well written handbook establishes clear “rules” so your employees can easily understand the parameters of their place of work, their eligibility for company benefits, what kind of behaviours may result in termination and how to solve problems.
It’s the time of the year many employers like to put on some sort of Christmas gathering to thank employees for their hard work throughout the year, in many cases it’s a time when the employees look forward to switching off and letting their hair down, a little too much in many cases.
However to avoid problems, the boundaries need to be set by the employer, the office party is an extension of the normal work environment if it is held at a separate venue or outside of the normal working hours. Employers can be held responsible for employee actions. It is important that employers communicate to its employees what is and isn’t acceptable at any work social events.
Employees should be aware they could face disciplinary action for any breaches of disciplinary rules including dismissal for gross misconduct following unacceptable behaviour at the Christmas party – they need to understand it is not acceptable to tell their boss exactly what they think of them and expect to get away with it just because they had a little too much to drink!!
Likewise, employers also need to ensure their managers behave accordingly and must be careful not to let their guard down by being overly social or using alcohol as an excuse to speak freely. Employers should consider drinking arrangements, for example if there is a free bar, consider limiting the arrangements and organising transport home for employees as employers could be liable for the welfare of their employees if they suffer alcohol-induced accidents.
Employers should also make a decision in advance to what leniency will be extended on the day after the party if it is a working day, Health & Safety should be at the forefront of the employers mind for example employees driving to work after having transport home the night before and employers should not expect employees to operate machinery if they are not fit to do so.
It’s important to remember it is a Christmas party and employers should not put the dampener on the festivities as this could have a negative effect and ruin the atmosphere of the party. Providing the employer takes reasonable steps to prevent unacceptable behaviour; employees must also take responsibility for their actions.
HR Services Manager