Publish date: 24 November 2022
Nicole Forbes

Now that the festive season is well and truly upon us, many workplaces are starting to hold their Christmas parties and festive celebrations. These events are a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, winddown as a team and reflect on your collective achievements for the year.  It is, however, important for employers to remember that they have the same responsibility to keep their employees safe at their Christmas party as they do in the office.

In an everyday workplace setting, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe working environment for their employees.  Did you know this responsibility extends to Christmas parties and work events? 

When planning your work celebrations, it is important for employers to ensure they have implemented appropriate measures to reduce the risk of injury to their employees this festive season.  As a work injury lawyer, I have compiled the top tips and tricks for achieving a safe festive event without spoiling all the fun:

  • When it comes to safety, education and policies are always a good place to start. Now is the time to review your workplace policies prior to any Christmas function and in particular, you may want to take a closer look at policies regarding alcohol consumption, drug use, bullying, sexual harassment and social media use;
  • In addition to your review, it’s important your employees are aware of, and reminded of, your policies prior to your Christmas function, this may include a reminder to management, team leaders and senior staff that they should lead by example with appropriate behaviour;
  • Your team may have mixed feelings about social media, to ensure employees feel safe, you may like to caution about posting pictures on personal and professional social media sites without first seeking permission from each person in the photograph;
  • If you generally have a positive culture and support for your policies, it’s likely well known, however planning a Christmas function can be a great opportunity to ensure that all of your employees are reminded that inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated in your workplace, whether at the party or day-to-day, and that they will be asked to leave your function if they engage in such behaviour;
  • When looking into venues you may like to consider booking a private venue or alternatively, holding your function at a segregated section of the venue;
  • You may also like to consider booking a venue that is close by to public transport or alternatively, ensure other transport arrangements are put in place to ensure employees make it home safely (for example hiring a coach);
  • Consider your food and beverage selections and services:
    • Most venues will take care of this for you but as the host you should ensure the responsible service and consumption of alcohol;
    • Ensure appropriate quantities of food are available to employees for the amount of time your function will run for;
    • Always ensure that non-alcoholic beverages and water are also readily available;
  • To ensure any risks or issues are mitigated it would be wise to designate one or two senior staff members to remain sober and keep an eye on employee behaviour and respond to any identified risks should they arise throughout the event;
  • You may also consider developing and making available a complaints process.

Depending on the size of your team, the venue and activities you are partaking in for your end of year celebration, the application of this list may vary. I hope this offers some insights into best practices for mitigating your risks and keeping your team safe. By implementing some of the above tips and tricks it will support you and your employees to have an enjoyable and safe festive season.

As published in QLS Proctor.

Nicole Forbes
Nicole Forbes
Senior Associate
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