Precautionary words ahead of the silly season

December is around the corner and society has given it a very apt name: silly season!

Among the many traditions that we enjoy over this festive period is the ever popular “year end function” or “staff party”.

If this is what you are planning in your business, I have a few tips that could save you a lot of money in lost productive time, damages and even litigation.

Whilst most employers have some form of alcohol related policy in the workplace, many will relax the policy in lieu of the year end functions. This means that management and staff sharing a few drinks and laughs around a braai is par for the course. And why should it not be?
The simple truth is that, although office parties are seen to be social events, they are an extension of the workplace and some rules should still prevail. There have been real cases of drunk driving, horrible accidents, violent behaviour and more emanating from office parties. And in many cases, the employer ends up sharing the liability and subsequently has to pay reparations and legal costs.

So if you don’t want to see your business ending up in expensive litigation, here are a few simple tips to consider:
1. Ensure all staff and management know that there will be one or two non-drinking members of management and staff monitoring people’s behaviour during the party.
2. Anyone who is responsible for a company vehicle should hand in the keys until the next day, or use a taxi to travel to and from the party.
3. Have breathalyser tests available for anyone wanting to check their level of sobriety. These are available from many outlets and are cheap enough.
4. Issue strict instructions to barmen or anyone in charge of dishing out alcohol, not to serve alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated.
5. Have a strict end time for the party. Preferably not after midnight. And ensure that the end time is strictly adhered to. Switch off music and lights if necessary.
6. Ensure that everyone knows that the party is still a work function and proper decorum is required. This includes mutual respect and orderly behaviour.

As always, if you or someone you know needs some assistance in this regard, please contact me.

Have a safe and happy festive season!