We all love having a party but every year we get called to help after things go wrong. Here are some tips on how to minimise the risks before, during and after the work Christmas party.
Before the party
All employees should be reminded in advance (in a meeting or by email) that the party is a work function and that the same standards of behaviour expected in the workplace will be expected at the function. Remind employees that sexual harassment and breaches of work health and safety obligations will not tolerated.
Employees should also be reminded to dress appropriately. For example, costumes at a fancy-dress party should not be offensive or inappropriate.
Decisions to include physical activities should be carefully considered given the workers compensation liability for injuries in this environment; if included, employees should be required to wear appropriate attire (including footwear) for the activity.
If you have any concerns you may want to consider refresher training on any relevant code of conduct or policies like work health and safety, social media, drugs and alcohol, anti-discrimination, anti-sexual harassment or anti-bullying.
Planning food and alcohol
Plenty of food should be served as one way of managing excessive alcohol consumption. The food should be hearty and substantial.
Employers should cater for employees with food allergies, intolerances and dietary restrictions – a sausage sizzle is not for everyone. Food designated for those with allergies, intolerances or dietary restrictions should be clearly labelled.
Plan a drinks menu that includes alcoholic, low-alcohol and non-alcoholic drinks. Make sure that lots of drinking water is also readily available.
Employees should be reminded to respect their colleagues’ decision not to drink if that is the case and should not pressure them into drinking.
Start and finish times
When sending out an invitation and any follow-up information about the party, employers should be very clear about the start, finish and location.
A strict cut-off time should apply to the service of alcohol and if possible, employees should be directed to leave the venue at the finish time.
Employees who wish to continue to another venue should be clearly advised that from the time the official work function ends, they will be responsible for their own actions.
During the party
Employers are expected to exercise some control over the way alcohol is consumed by employees. This means that “self service” is a bad idea and someone must be supervising access to and consumption of alcoholic drinks.
Responsible service of alcohol is a lot easier to manage when service is provided by professional bar staff, trained in the responsible service of alcohol. This will reduce the amount of over indulgence and help to eliminate any situation where a fellow employee has to deal with the difficult situation of refusing to provide a drink to a colleague or their boss.
Under no circumstance should employees under 18 years of age be served alcohol.
The venue of the event is an important consideration. It should be somewhere safe that will not place the health and safety of employees at risk – even at work functions, employers have a duty to provide a safe environment.
“Secret Santa” and gift giving
Employers should remind employees engaged in gift exchanges that gifts should be appropriate and not offensive or capable of being misunderstood.
After the party
Employers should ensure that employees get home safely. This may involve organising a private bus or vouchers for a taxi or Uber.
End of year activities and events should be fun occasions and if you follow these hints then the employer is protected.
Follow these guides and have a fabulous Christmas party!
Citron Consulting can help you to create human resources policies suitable for your business and provide advice or employee counseling services.
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