With the Christmas season upon us again many employers will arrange a work-related social event (Christmas party) in order to thank employees for their efforts and hard work over the past year.
Despite Christmas parties occurring mostly outside of the work place, responsibility still lies with the employer for the protection and safety of their employees. Each year cases concerning bullying and harassment are brought before the Rights Commissioner and the Equality Tribunal. These incidents can be perpetrated at work-related social events like the Christmas party and the employer is often held liable for such action.
For the protection of the organisation and to avoid any such issues, below is a list of preventative steps which can be taken:
- Re-circulate the company’s Dignity at Work policy, which should include reference to bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in the workplace. This policy should clearly state that work-related social events fall under the terms of this policy.
- Ensure that it is clearly outlined to employees that they may be subject to disciplinary action leading up to and including dismissal should they be found in breach of the company’s Dignity at Work policy at a work-related social event.
- Ensure that employees are aware of the company’s Disciplinary and Grievance procedures.
- Re-circulate the company’s Social Media policy to ensure employees are aware of the rules surrounding publishing photographs online in order to prevent any privacy infringements arising or damage being caused to the company’s reputation.
- If the event is scheduled on an evening where employees are required to work the following day, ensure employees are aware of the company’s Absence policy.
- Brief members of Management on the above policies and ensure that they know how to deal with behaviour that could be deemed inappropriate at the event should it arise.
- Advise Management not to discuss issues relating to salaries, performance or career prospects at the event.