The holiday season is just around the corner, and there’s no doubt that one of the most anticipated events on your company’s calendar is the annual Christmas party. It’s a time to celebrate. However, it also comes with some potential legal risks that employers need to be aware of and manage carefully.
Work Christmas parties are an extension of the workplace, and as such, employers bear a responsibility to diligently take all reasonable steps to safeguard the health and safety of their employees and prevent any unlawful or inappropriate behaviour at these events. In the event that discrimination, harassment or bullying transpires during a work function, an employer is at risk of being held vicariously liable for such conduct unless they can demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to reduce, mitigate and manage the improper behaviour.
When situations take an unfavourable turn, employers can find themselves vulnerable to a variety of claims. These can include complaints of sexual harassment, instances of bullying, discrimination, and even workers’ compensation claims. Not only will such claims be damaging to an employer’s reputation and put a dampener on employee morale, they are also time-consuming and costly.
This article will provide some practical tips on how to plan and host a safe and enjoyable work Christmas party, while minimising the risks of liability for any incidents that may arise.
In preparation for end of year corporate functions and events in the workplace, employers should consider taking the following measures to mitigate risks that may arise:
Therefore, while the annual Christmas party is a time for celebration, we must remember that our professional responsibilities do not disappear when the festive season arrives. By proactively managing potential risks, setting clear expectations, and promoting responsible behaviour, employers can ensure a harmonious and enjoyable event for all.
So, as you gear up for this year’s Christmas celebrations, do so with confidence that with careful planning and thoughtful execution, you can enjoy the festivities while keeping employment risks at bay.
The Australian Human Rights Commission (Commission) has released Guidelines for Complying with the newly enacted Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) (Act) (Guidelines).
From 1 July 2023, a number of employment related thresholds increased for the 2023/2024 financial year. The cap on the amount of compensation available to an unfairly dismissed employee has increased from $81,000 to $83,750, with the high-income threshold having increased from $162,000 to $167,500. The filing fee for unfair dismissal, general protections and anti-bullying/sexual harassment at work applications made under sections 365, 372, 394, 773 and 789FC of the FWA has increased from $77.80 to $83.30. Other changes will also impact the national minimum wage, the tax-free cap for genuine redundancy and superannuation entitlements. The key employment rate changes effective, as of 1 July 2023, are summarised as follows: