The festive season is upon us, and as office Christmas parties kick into gear, HR experts are sounding the alarm on the potential legal pitfalls employers may face. Donna Obstfeld, a published author and founder of DOHR, emphasizes the crucial responsibility employers hold for the safety and well-being of their staff during festive celebrations with A Guide for Employers During the Holiday Season.
In a recent statement, Obstfeld notes, “Far be it from me to be a party pooper, but amidst the fun, employers must remember they are 100% responsible for the physical and psychological safety of their staff, even at the office Christmas party.”
A Guide for Employers During the Holiday Season
To mitigate risks, employers are advised to consider the following:
Preventing Sexual Harassment
Obstfeld underscores the need to take all reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment. This includes addressing unwanted attention, touching, and inappropriate comments. Despite the festive atmosphere, alcohol should not be an excuse, as impending legislation is set to focus on this critical issue.
To ensure an inclusive celebration, employers should consider dietary requirements, venue accessibility, and the diverse needs of their staff. This encompasses considerations for individuals with gluten-free, Kosher, Hallal, or diabetic dietary requirements, as well as those with visual impairments, wheelchair users, and neurodiverse individuals.
The timing of the festivities is crucial. Employers should assess whether holding the function after hours accommodates all staff, taking into account parents with childcare responsibilities and those with elder care duties.
Safe Journeys Home
Post-party, it is essential to ensure that all staff can get home safely. Employers should make arrangements or provide assistance to guarantee the well-being of employees after the celebration concludes.
As the year-end approaches, employers should also be mindful of upcoming legislative changes. Donna Obstfeld’s infographic highlights key areas, including sexual harassment prevention, leave for carers, Tupe consultation, pregnancy and maternity protections, and data protection.
Additionally, Obstfeld issues a final warning regarding annual leave. Employers are urged to check remaining entitlements, review their leave policies, and ensure all staff have received their 28 days (Full Time Equivalent) annual leave within the year to comply with the law.
With these insights, employers can navigate the challenges of the holiday season while staying compliant with evolving legislation.