He’s Making a List…..He’s Checking it Twice…..but at this year’s Office Christmas party will YOUR staff be naughty or will they be nice?
It might only be the beginning of November, but many employers are already planning this year’s Christmas party and they are no doubt hopeful that this festive season will be an enjoyable time for bosses and employees alike but be warned – without careful planning, employers could easily end up with a costly HR Hangover!
Free flowing alcohol at the annual office Christmas party often acts as a trigger for some less than jolly employee behaviour leaving business owners/managers with a less than festive HR hangover to cope with.
Common issues Employers often have to deal with after the office Christmas party include gross misconduct (usually the result of a festive punch up), claims of bullying, harassment or even discrimination (sex, age, race, religious).
So here are Employment Law Services (ELS)’ “’Top Tips” to help Employers avoid an HR hangover by steering their company sleigh around the traditional Christmas HR landmines:
- Ensure all employees are aware of the company’s standard disciplinary and grievance procedures.
- If staff are expected to come in the day after the office party, make sure this has been clearly communicated to them beforehand
- At the office party, ensure all employees are catered for regardless of their age, sex, sexual orientation, religion or disability.
- Lastly, consider providing transportation from the party venue to ensure staff arrive home safely.
If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to review your Company’s existing discipline & grievance policy to make sure it is up to date with current legislation and the ACAS Code of Conduct and if you have any specific queries regarding employment issues Contact Us and our multi-award winning Employment Law and HR Team will provide you with commercially focused advice and support.
In the last two decades, increasing attention has been drawn to issues of sexual harassment both in and beyond the workplace. This has culminated in The Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Act 2023, which received royal assent on the 18th of September. Alongside established harassment and bullying laws, this bill promises harsh sentences for those found guilty of sex-based harassment in public spaces.
In this blog, you’ll find all the information you need to know about The Protection from Sex-Based Harassment in Public Act 2023, both as an employer and an employee.
Workplace harassment laws
Under the Equality Act 2010, workplace harassment and bullying is considered unlawful. However, there is a distinction between the two as only harassment itself can be grounds for legal action as it’s against the law. This applies when unwanted behaviour relates to an employee’s:
- Religion or belief
- Marriage or civil partnership
- Pregnancy or maternity status
- Sexual orientation
- Gender reassignment or identification
The law outlines that employers are responsible for taking steps to prevent workplace bullying and harassment. They are also liable for any harassment suffered by employees. It’s recommended that victims first seek counsel from managers or HR before submitting a formal complaint or initiating legal action. As such, it can be beneficial to obtain guidance from employment law specialists for employers.
The Protection from Sex-Based Harassment in Public Act 2023 explained
This bill is designed to provide more comprehensive regulations to protect individuals against sex-based harassment. The official documentation states it is ‘An Act to make provision about causing intentional harassment, alarm or distress to a person in public where the behaviour is done because of that person’s sex; and for connected purposes‘. It has consequently made additions to the Public Order Act 1986.
Most workplaces are considered public places, as it is available for public access. As a result, employees and employers should be aware of this legislation. The provisions of the bill state that criminal charges can be brought against anyone found guilty on a sex-based harassment offence.
A government supported amendment to the bill will see the maximum sentence increased from six months to two years. It should be noted that in cases of sex-based harassment in the workplace, liability lies with employees too.
It has been agreed by MPs that statutory guidance on what legal defence is available to defendants should be added to the bill. This includes a detailed definition of what constitutes reasonable and unreasonable conduct. The intention is to make it easier for the police to enforce the new regulations. It is unclear when these inclusions will become part of the bill.
Expertise on employment law for employers UK
As an employer, harassment claims of any kind should be taken very seriously. Issues of harassment in workplace, especially those based around sex, can be difficult to navigate. Employment Law Services (ELS) Ltd provides professional HR advice for employers that is tailored to your circumstances. This includes actionable advice in areas of contract law, discrimination, workplace health and safety, harassment, and much more. Contact us to speak to one of our experts today.