melbourne cup

Enjoying the Melbourne Cup at Work

Melbourne cup is a great Aussie tradition, the race that stops the nation!?

Unless you are in Melbourne where some clever person declared it a public holiday way back when, each employer will need to make some calls about Melbourne Cup day.

The rest of Australia will take the time to do some form of work event for the cup. Some businesses go all out, and others, who have customers to serve have events. 

Melbourne cup day is also a good time to organise a team event.  Taking the afternoon off to do Melbourne cup and then some fun team activities is a great way to utilise a high energy day, create stronger bonds and build employee engagement.  Encourage people to dress up and organise some fun team bonding events. 

The flip side of having an afternoon event is that people will be less likely to call in sick.  If you suspect some employees may call in sick, make it clear that people are expected to attend work and depending on your culture and business you might also request any leave is supported by a doctors certificate.

So whilst the event should be fun, as always with employment, there can be a darker side.  

Here’s our key tips to ensure you have a great afternoon and do not expose yourself to legal liability:

  • All businesses should have a drug and alcohol policy.  Be sure to reinforce the principles prior to the event.
  • If you are planning on having alcohol, do make sure you issue the usual precautions about professionalism and responsible drinking and know when to stop the tap.
  • Be very clear about the official start and finish time of the work event.  Often staff go out and party afterwards and you need to be clear that is not part of the official work event. 
  • Make sure there is someone in charge who is not drinking to keep an eye on any potential issues and give them the authority to professionally manage the situation.
  • Be careful to not be neutral on ‘punting’ or ‘betting’.  If people want to participate, they do so without pressure and similarly if they choose not to, there should be no pressure.  Remember, some people have significant gambling addictions, some face living with addicts and others have strict religious beliefs around gambling.
  • If your office is running a sweepstake, make sure you follow the legal guidelines to avoid illegal gambling issues: https://www.findlaw.com.au/articles/5019/is-the-melbourne-cup-office-sweep-legal.aspx
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