Keeping Christmas Parties Merry and Bright

Wednesday November 17, 2021

As the festive season approaches, so too do the workplace Christmas parties.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without an office party – and the majority of companies host a function for their employees every year, without fail.

With the Christmas party (and its associated alcohol consumption) comes the risk of safety-related incidents, which is why employers should put measures in place to ensure any risks are minimised.

What are the possible risks at an office Christmas party?

  • Sexual harassment
  • Bullying
  • Injury at the event or when travelling home

With these risks in mind, employers should let their employees know about expected standards of behaviour and have systems in place to prevent any issues arising.

Implement policies and procedures

Every company should already have a Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Policy in place. Prior to hosting a Christmas party, check that this policy specifies points around the behaviour expected of employees at work functions, specifically around the excessive consumption of alcohol. Ensure employees are aware of these policies and procedures.

Nominate a manager to remain sober and offer supervision

At least one senior staff member shouldn’t drink alcohol, in order to supervise employees and monitor behaviour. This person should have enough authority to be able to intervene in escalating interactions, and also be able to ensure employees can get home safely.

Send a memo out to all staff

Prior to the Christmas party, email all employees to remind them of company policy and procedures. This email reminds employees of their obligations under the company’s policies and encourages them to be safe and responsible at the function. It also provides evidence that the employer took all reasonably practicable steps to prevent conduct in breach of its policies.

A Christmas party email typically reads along the lines of:

Dear {first name},

After a busy year, we look forward to celebrating with you at tonight’s Christmas party. Please keep in mind, however, that this is a work function, and an appropriate standard of conduct is expected.

As a work function, our Sexual Harassment, Bullying and Discrimination Policy, OH&S Policy and Code of Conduct Policy apply at tonight’s event. Please familiarise yourself with these policies.

We also remind you that the use of illegal drugs and/or excessive consumption of alcohol is prohibited during the Christmas Party. We reserve the right to refuse service of alcohol to any employee who is behaving inappropriately.

Food and drinks will be provided at the Christmas party, including alcohol. If you choose to drink alcohol, please ensure that you eat the food on offer, and drink responsibly.

If you are drinking alcohol at the Christmas Party, please do not drive home. We are supplying taxi vouchers for employees to make their way home safely.

If, at any point tonight, you feel intoxicated, unwell or unsafe, please ask for help from {name of nominated non-drinking manager}. Similarly, if you are concerned for the safety or wellbeing of a colleague, also seek out {name}.

We hope you enjoy tonight’s event.

Merry Christmas!

If you would like any assistance with HR issues please reach out to The HR Dept.

Preventing People Problems

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