On the fifth day of Christmas - tips for employers about hosting their staff’s Christmas Party and avoiding New Year’s employment problems

Posted on 04 December 2013

Hosting a Christmas Party for your staff: Tips for employers on how not to have the night end in a New Year legal battle

The date is on the calendar and the planning is underway. Your staff are looking forward to a fun night celebrating the year’s achievements. As business owner/s or management of staff however, planning should also include how to ensure your responsibility towards your staff is maintained and that the function is problem free. Whether on-site or off, an employer’s responsibility towards employees at an official work function does not alter. Protecting your staff remains your responsibility. Here are some points you may wish to consider prior to the event:

  • Undertake a risk assessment covering the venue, plans and participants and try and keep the plan to something which is manageable.
  • Check your insurance policy to ensure it covers staff at a function such as a Christmas Party, on or off-site.
  • Ensure your managers are fully versed with your WHS policy, drug and alcohol policy and the responsible service of alcohol to staff and understand their responsibility to remain alert, keep their own behaviour in check and to take action should it be required.
  • Send an email or memo and post it in the staff room reminding staff of the company’s policies covering bullying and harassment and social media. The same rules are still applicable at the party as apply at work.
  • Outline the expected behaviour of staff at the party and advise that activities and behaviour after the party is finished are on the staff’s own time and are not endorsed by the company.
  • Consider how staff will travel to and from the party venue safely. Will taxis be available or could a bus be organised?
  • Send a clear invitation to staff setting out who is actually invited i.e. staff only or plus one, and clearly define start and finish time.
  • Liaise with venue wait staff ensuring they understand your policies and expectations re: service of alcohol and refraining from serving staff members who have had too much to drink.
  • To counter the consumption of alcohol, ensure food and non-alcoholic drinks are readily available.
  • Identify under-aged staff members and ensure that they and the wait staff understand they are not to be served alcohol.

Careful planning, reminders and consideration to the demographic of your staff members will ensure your Christmas Party is one to remember for the right reason, celebrating the year’s achievements and enjoying one another’s company.