Can I refuse an employee’s requests for holidays?
Yes, on reasonable business grounds. Annual leave is granted on first come first served basis. The company still needs to function over holiday periods so will try and approve all holidays but may need to compromise depending on how many employees have requested the same days.
Can I ask my employees to work on public holidays?
This can only be requested as all employees are legally entitled to public holidays off. Penalty fees apply (2x or 3x hourly pay).
Can I close my business over the Christmas/New Year period?
You can close your own business whenever you choose to do so. Usually this is a strategic decision and as long as public holidays are given off for all employees, you can decide to be open all other days if you wish. Personally, I would see how my company had performed that annual year and make an informed decision based on that.
What are the best tips to avoid people getting intoxicated?
Send your company’s Social Functions Policy around well in advance to remind people of their behaviour and the effects it may have on others as well as worst case scenarios your employment! Also, having appropriate bar tabs and alcohol available in the office so not to encourage employees getting too intoxicated.
What is the best way to deal with inappropriate behaviour at Christmas events?
If any form of inappropriate behaviour or grievances are raised after a company event, relevant grievance handling policies should be followed. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may want to follow one of these three options:
- Deal with the mater informally – sorting it directly with the person involved. Sometimes people are unaware of the impact of their behaviour
- Speak to a representative of the business – if you do not want to speak directly to the person, you may want to discuss with one or more representatives of the business (i.e. HR or Director)
- Make a formal complaint to the company – this must be done in writing to the Director or HR team. You may bring another employee to the meeting when discussing the grievance.
Results of inappropriate behaviour deemed as a grievance, and if it is substantiated, some of the following actions may take place:
- An apology; verbal or written
- An official warning on misconduct
- Closer supervision of conduct
- Referral to police if it is a criminal offence
What if the employee simply doesn’t turn up next day?
This one is more a common sense and situational one. If it is the employees 1st offence, a director/manager should be talking with them as soon as they get back to work. This meeting will be documented and will explain how this behaviour is unacceptable and any repeated behaviours will result in a formal warning.
Can employers be liable for harassment that occurs during a work Christmas party?
YES! Employer or not, if any form of harassment, bullying or inappropriate behaviour comes from an employer, the same grievance procedure will follow as mentioned above. Companies should lead from the top and behaviours from the top are what employees deem appropriate and reasonable. If they are not, how can you expect to have a functioning company! It is also important to understand what is considered as a causal situation and ‘banter’. However, not all employees will take behaviours as ‘banter’ and this could have disastrous repercussions if complaints are made.