Employers from time to time may express their gratitude to their employees for their hard work by organising social events outside of normal working hours, and usually away from the workplace. For 2020, this may include virtual events.
Whilst such events normally run smoothly without any issues, there may be occasions when employees fail to adhere to the company's policies and procedures by engaging in activities that are viewed by management as unacceptable.
Employees also have a responsibility to take reasonable precautions to look after their own health and safety and that of others that may be affected by their acts and omissions. They must not behave in a way that could damage the reputation of the company.
This includes during virtual events, where despite the employee taking part from their own home, they are still representing the company. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action and possible dismissal.
As Christmas fast approaches, organisations begin their preparations to celebrate the festive season. A work-related social event, like a Christmas party, is effectively an extension of the workplace and so an employer is likely to be held vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.
It would be best practice to have a work-related social events policy in place, which is inclusive of virtual events, to remind employees of what behaviours are deemed socially acceptable.
The Work-Related Social Events Policy may include:
Ø Alcohol use;
Ø Illegal drugs;
Ø Not drinking and driving;
Ø Not tolerating improper conduct and unacceptable behaviour; and
Ø Employees not bringing the Company’s name into disrepute.
ØAppropriate use of webcam
All employees are required to report for work the day after a work-related social event unless the employee has arranged in advance to take it as a day’s annual leave. Any unauthorised absence will be treated as a disciplinary matter.
There is an expectation of what behaviour is viewed as appropriate, where all employees can enjoy work-related social events free from harassment and other abusive behaviour.
Let me take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas. I hope you get to enjoy some time together with your teams, even if it is virtually, and wish you all the best for 2021.
Carrie Wilson, HR Consultant