Should organisations ban alcohol from functions?


iHR Australia Investigation Report – Key Statistics: Edition 2

iHR Australia investigators have compiled a collection of statistics to track trends in the workplace.

Our June stat may not be surprising, but with end of financial year celebrations approaching, it’s certainly timely to consider the risks and responsibilities.

Eileen Walsh, iHR Australia Director of Professional Services answered some pressing questions around this statistic.

Should organisations ban alcohol from functions?

Many organisations are evaluating their alcohol policies, particularly in light of #MeToo developments, with some considering whether alcohol should be banned from the workplace.

This question really needs to be considered in the broader context of workplace culture. Some industries report higher incidents of risky behaviour or environments than others. This can be influenced by the nature of the work, the work environment, its’ leaders, the age and makeup of its workforce and other workplace cultural issues.

Proper consideration needs to be given and a formal assessment of risk and the duty of care should be undertaken to ensure a safe workplace.

What can organisations do to prevent the risk of inappropriate behaviour at work functions?

Company policies and procedures apply when it comes to a ‘work related function’. All Work, Health and Safety (WHS) legislation impose a ‘duty of care’ on employers. This includes anticipating risk and taking all reasonable steps to prevent injury. While employees have an obligation to take responsibility for their own actions and safety this does not remove the employer’s obligations.

  • All staff should be reminded prior to a function of their obligations and company expectations regarding appropriate behaviours and consequences of any breaches of policies
  • Organisations should ensure there is controlled serving of alcohol at any event
  • Appoint designated managers, who can be a point of contact to address any issues if they arise
  • Provisions should also be made for ridesharing, designated drivers, or safe methods for traveling home after an event

Can you clarify what constitutes ‘sexual harassment’ specifically? 

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advance, unwelcome request for sexual favours or other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in circumstances where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would anticipate the possibility that the person harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

Regular training should be provided for both managers and employees so everyone is fully aware of what is considered appropriate workplace behaviour and have a clear understanding of what constitutes bullying, harassment and sexual harassment.

Learn more about our Workplace Investigations