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April 3, 2020

So be good for goodness sake: workplace behaviour at end-of-year events

As we head into the silly season, it’s worth keeping in mind that silliness is no excuse for poor standards of behaviour or even misconduct at work functions.

We’ve all heard stories about office parties where a worker has embarrassed themselves and/or others, or caused harm to others, because they’ve had too much to drink or just gotten carried away.

We’ve also all heard stories of employers firing staff because of such inappropriate behaviour.

Perpetrators of misconduct often ruin otherwise enjoyable events for the majority and may even cause lingering damage.

But behaviour at work functions is more than just an issue of “fun” – it can also be a serious compliance problem.

Workplace codes of conduct and anti-bullying and harassment laws can extend to conduct which takes place outside what is traditionally considered “the workplace”. This means staff behaviour at work functions held at off-site venues are included in the scope of the law. In some situations, travel to and from such events may also be covered. Laws and policies may also apply to posting online about work or work events, for example, uploading pictures of colleagues or commenting on other people’s posts.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe work environment for staff (including volunteers and contractors) as well as clients. A safe work environment means one which is free from bullying and harassment. Your organisation could be held liable for inappropriate staff behaviour at work functions.

Most people have no issues treating others with respect and professionalism while having a good time. Others might need a reminder.

Ensuring all staff members are informed of and understand the standard of behaviour expected of them at these events helps everyone to have a great time and can go a long way towards preventing lingering legal or reputational consequences.

GRC Solutions is an award-winning provider of compliance training. To find out more about our Diversity & Equality course which details how your workplace should manage and prevent bullying, contact us today.

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