Employers should tackle

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Employers should tackle

Companies which send employees to footy finals matches to entertain guests or clients may find themselves facing sexual harassment or personal injury claims, a leading law firm has warned.

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Companies which send employees to footy finals matches to entertain guests or clients may find themselves facing sexual harassment or personal injury claims, a leading law firm has warned.

Deacons law firm says companies need to be aware that the same laws which apply in their office premises, may also apply at a football stadium.

Deacons workplace relations partners Sarah Ralph and David Cross warn companies to be aware of the fact that if an employee is at the football at the request of their employer, or entertaining clients with their employer's knowledge, then the corporate box, corporate seats, or pre- and post-match bar or restaurant could be considered, in the eyes of the law, a workplace.

Excitement plus alcohol = problems

‘The excitement of a major event such as football finals, mixed with alcohol, can lead to behaviour from employees and guests that you would not usually encounter during working hours on office premises,’ Cross said. ‘Employers are liable for the actions of not just their employees, but also their guests towards their employees.’

Cross said common risk factors in a social environment involve personal injury claims, resulting from an employee injuring themselves, and sexual harassment claims arising out of inappropriate behaviour - often brought about by over-indulging in alcohol.

Legal exposure

‘Employers need to take precautions to lessen their legal exposure during the finals period,’ he said. ‘This may involve ensuring someone is at the event who is responsible for ensuring the safety of that “workplace” and clearly communicating the expectations of the company when employees are entertaining or being entertained.’  

‘They need to adopt strategies for identifying and preventing risks,’ said Ralph. ‘Many employers have in place policies to minimise liability risk in connection to the annual Christmas party, however other festivals like the footy finals or Racing Spring Carnival leave them equally exposed.’

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