Publication

Top tips for keeping everyone safe at the work Christmas party

by Rosemary Patti and Alex Kohn
06 December 2019
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The end of year staff party is a great way to show employees your appreciation for their hard work during the year, and builds team morale.  However, the Christmas party often brings with it some avoidable issues.

Without being labelled “the fun police”, employers can follow these simple tips to make the party a fun night for everyone, including management!

  1. An employer’s duty of care for their employees extends to the Christmas party.  It is accepted by courts and tribunals that attending the party is “in the course of employment”.  This means that employers must ensure the health, safety and well being of staff at the party, not only limited to the workplace.  This can also extend to after party celebrations, particularly where senior employees are seen to be encouraging more junior staff to “kick on” to another bar, club or other similar venue.
     
  2. Where possible, select a venue that is close to public transport and advise employees that they should not drive if they intend to drink. Employers can provide cab charge vouchers, or agree to reimburse employees for Ubers to ensure they get home safely.
     
  3. Check the venue for possible hazards, such as uneven floors or poorly lit sections of the venue, and make potential risk areas out of bounds. 
     
  4. Set clear start and finish times and do not serve alcohol past this time. 
     
  5. Review your policies/procedures on sexual harassment, social media use, and alcohol and drug use and ensure that employees have received training on their content before the party. 
     
  6. Leading up to the party, send an email to all staff reminding them about what is appropriate workplace behaviour and that these standards apply even where the party occurs outside of working hours and away from the office.  Employers should remind employees about the consequences of inappropriate behaviour, including dismissal.
     
  7. Nominate a senior employee to stay sober to supervise the party, which may include taking appropriate action to address escalating/inappropriate behaviour such as sending some people home or even closing the bar at the venue.
     
  8. Ensure there is plenty of food and non-alcoholic drink options available at the party.
     
  9. Encourage employees to know their own limits when it comes to alcohol consumption and ensure management lead by example. 
     
  10. Deal with all complaints without delay.

If you would like to talk to us about your policies and procedures, or drafting new ones, to ensure you’re covered for the upcoming festive season, please don't hesitate to contact us.