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Annual risk time: Christmas party bad behaviour

It’s that time of year when Christmas parties head into full swing around the country.

Ensuring your business is ready for the silly season isn’t about being a scrooge – it’s about ensuring all you’re left with is a sore head.

According to figures released by employment law consultancy Employsure, which surveyed 712 Aussie businesses, 71% of bosses have disciplined workers because of bad behaviour at Christmas parties.

Overall, around 82% of businesses will host end of year parties this month, a rise on just 63% who partied last year.

Edward Mallett, managing director of Employsure, believes the problems occur when employees take their antics too far.

When it comes to Christmas party risk, Mallett says there are the obvious ones, like lewd or suggestive comments not being received well, or an unrequested proposition under the influence of alcohol.

“What might result in a snarl or a slap across the face outside work, can constitute harassment in a working environment,” Mallett said.

There are also the more technical risks to consider, like workplace health and safety.

“Staff are still at work, at a funded Christmas party that they are required to attend, even if it is after hours. So employers run the risk of worker’s compensation claims if injuries occur as it is an extension of the working day,” Mallett added.

While it’s important to reward staff for their efforts and to embrace the Christmas spirit – there are also an array of ways to celebrate besides the traditional party format.

“Support a community project for a day, or put the cost of a party towards gifts to your staff or even look at giving additional paid leave during any Christmas shut down as a gift. One of these options could serve the purpose of bringing about some camaraderie and spirit in the season of good will, without the legal hangover,” Mallett said.

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Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie Zillman

Stephanie is the editor-at-large of Dynamic Business. Stephanie brings with her a passion for journalism, business, and new ideas. On her days off, you might find her reading a book on the beach.

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