This article is brought to you by Slater and Gordon.
By Mick Sayers, Principal Laywer.
With the end-of-year party season in full swing, it’s also that time of year to remind employees of their rights and responsibilities when attending workplace celebrations.
The work Christmas or end-of-year celebration is considered a work function, so employers have a duty of care to ensure a safe environment, but employees also need to remember that inappropriate behaviour could cost them their job.
There are certainly cases around Australia where workers have had their employment terminated due to their actions at end-of-year events.
Examples of employment being terminated include:
As end-of-year events organised by employers are deemed to be work functions, employees and employers should be mindful of their obligations under discrimination, sexual harassment and workplace health and safety laws.
Employers may be liable if an injury occurs at a work end-of-year event, and an employee may be entitled to make a claim for workers compensation as the injury may be deemed to have occurred within the course of the employee’s employment.
Examples of the above include:
However, if an employee’s injury is deemed to have occurred outside the course of employment, a workers compensation claim might be denied. This can vary in each State and Territory.
In the NSW case of Scharrer v The Redrock Co Pty Ltd, an employee was seriously disabled in a car crash while driving home from the work Christmas party with a blood alcohol reading of more than twice the legal limit. While attending the end-of-year event is within the course of employment, driving home is not viewed in the same way in NSW, so she was not eligible for workers’ compensation.
We recommend the following checklist when attending your end of year event:
We hope that this checklist helps to ensure that you have a safe and happy festive season.
If any troubles arise with your employer during the festive season, we recommend that you contact your Organiser or HACSU Assist on 1300 651 931 or firstname.lastname@example.org who may be able to assist directly or provide you with a priority referral to Slater and Gordon for further action.
About the Author: Mick Sayers is a Principal Lawyer of our Industrial and Employment Law team. Mick’s day to day practice involves assisting individuals with employment law related matters, as well as advising and acting on behalf of unions involved with industrial law disputes. Mick has been a member of the Slater and Gordon team for 23 years. Mick is passionate about rock and roll music, test match cricket and and supports Essendon during the AFL footy season.
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