Preparing for Christmas Parties

It will not be long until work Christmas parties are held to celebrate the end of the working year. However, this time of year often leads to an increase in employment related complaints. The alcohol fueled parties often lead to workplace injuries or inappropriate behaviour, such as sexual harassment, discrimination or bullying. Employers are legally responsible for the conduct of employees at work Christmas parties.

Employers should be mindful that there are a number of things that you can do to reduce of these issues arising.

Some Tips to Reduce Risk

  • Before the event, remind employees that as the party is a work-related event employees must comply with workplace policies. Suggest that emplloyees familiarise themselves with relevant policies, such as the employee code of conduct, discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and alcohol and drug use.
  • Warn employees about the consequences of unacceptable conduct.
  • Specify clear start and end times for the party and ensure alcohol is not served after the end time.
  • Serve alcohol responsibly and limit the amount of alcohol available.
  • Ensure that food and non-alcoholic drinks are available.
  • Make sure that young employees below the legal drinking age do not drink alcohol.
  • Appoint a person or persons from the management team to keep an eye on the party and take appropriate action if any concerns arise.
  • Ensure safe transportation home is available and advise employees that they should not drive if they are going to drink.
  • If an employee is behaving badly at the party, ‘nip it in the bud’ immediately.
  • Don’t organise, or pay for, drinks at alternative venues after the party is finished.
  • Ensure that everyone leaves the premises at the end of the party.
  • If a complaint arises about behaviour at the Christmas party, make sure that the complaint is dealt with promptly and that it is investigated if required.

Tim Hayter, Principal, Mid West Lawyers

This information is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought for your particular circumstances.