Avoid Christmas party drama

Businesses are being urged to prepare now to avoid HR headaches this festive season.

Employee Relations Advice Centre (ERAC) Manager Kristen Eatwell says the ERAC Advice Centre is already receiving calls from businesses preparing for end-of-year celebrations.

But, she says, most calls still come after incidents have occurred.

She’s encouraging businesses to get in touch ahead of time to help prevent issues at work Christmas events.

“We definitely get an increase in calls in January as a result of businesses being reactive but it should be more about being proactive and double-checking they’ve got everything in place.

“It’s good practice ahead of the event to give us a call and make sure the policies and procedures are up to date and in line with any changes to legislation or case law.”

Duty of care, preventing excessive drinking and poor behaviour top the list of concerns facing businesses hosting Christmas and end of year parties.

COVID-19 has added a layer of complexity to event planning this year and businesses should ensure their end-of-year parties comply with government health advice.

The State Government has also recently announced mandatory contract tracing at venues and many types of business.

“A difference this year is businesses should still be considering social distancing, hygiene and if people are sick they shouldn’t be coming to the event,” she says.

Eatwell explains that sexual harassment, bullying and harassment were the key complaints that arose from Christmas events, and to a lesser extent worker injuries.

“The biggest thing is about being prepared and being at the forefront and giving us a call prior to the event happening so we can talk to them about what their duty of care is as well as some practical steps to prevent things from getting out of control,” she says.

“Unfortunately you cannot prevent everything, but you can mitigate the risks by being prepared.”

ERAC’s Advice Centre is free to CCIWA Members and can be reached on (08) 9365 7660.

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