It’s that time of year again! Here is our quick guide to your responsibilities as a manager organising a staff Christmas party.
Just because you’re not at work, it doesn’t mean you’re not at work!
Any function organised by you and attended by your employees is work related and the same rules that apply in the workplace apply to your party. There are certain steps you can take to ensure risks are minimised and everyone has a good time.
Before the event
Make sure you have implemented policies covering occupational health and safety, harassment, bullying and discrimination. Remind staff that these policies also apply to work social functions. Let them know that unacceptable behaviour could result in disciplinary action.
You can be liable for sexual harassment, bullying and unsafe behaviour engaged in by employees or agents at the Christmas party unless you can show that you took all reasonable steps to prevent the unlawful behaviour.
Plan the event to take into account the age range of your staff and their access to transport. For example, you may have employees who are under 18. Serving them alcohol is against the law.
If you have staff with food allergies or preferences, these need to be considered in planning your catering. Also, be aware of the food poisoning risks with buffet-style food service and take steps to avoid them.
Employees who are injured at the Christmas party or on their journey home may lodge workers compensation claims or common law claims for personal injury.
During the event
Provide the option of low alcohol and plenty of alcohol free drinks, accompanied by substantial food. Don’t rely on venue staff for responsible service of alcohol. Managers also need to keep an eye on drinkers and take action if needed. This may include sending an intoxicated employee home in a taxi.
As a manager, you can model appropriate behaviour. A work Christmas party that you have organised is probably not the best situation for you to really let your hair down!
After the event
Ensure staff have appropriate travel arrangements in place to get home safely. Consider arranging a mini-bus or cabcharge vouchers for your staff, particularly those who have been drinking.
In the event that a staff member has had too much to drink, or too late a night, and needs to drive or operate machinery the next day, give them time off or alternative work until they are fit to resume their normal tasks.