The Christmas Party Rules

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Nov 21, 2018 | Posted in Business Advice, Human Resources Services
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Are you having a Christmas party?

What steps have you put in place to ensure the health and safety of your staff and any other attendees? Our workplace party checklist will help you mitigate your risk of hosting a staff Christmas party so you too can relax and enjoy knowing you have taken ‘reasonable steps’ to avoid the onset of a woeful hangover that may linger long after the Christmas party has ended.

What risk?

In today’s world, responsibility for all work related events rests with the business owner. As a business owner, there is a real risk that you could be held vicariously liable for any of your employees who behave badly.

What to do about risk?

To mitigate your business risk, you must take ‘reasonable steps’ to prevent bad behaviour from occurring. This extends to the Christmas Party - After Party, for those employees who choose to ‘party on’ after the Christmas party has officially ended.

Workplace party checklist

1. Set a start and finish time (and make it official)

Be crystal clear about this. State what time the party officially ends. Let everyone know the time they must vacate the venue by. Make sure everyone leaves the party venue by the official party end time.

2. Inspect the venue

It’s important to inspect your chosen party venue for any possible workplace health and safety hazards so these can be appropriately managed beforehand and/or on the night of your Christmas party.

3. Behaviour standards

Your Christmas party is a workplace event and you expect your staff to comply with your workplace policies. How do you do this? You must state the obvious. What are your expectations? What is bad behaviour?

Remind your staff about your code of conduct and your other workplace policies on discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and harassment and other forms of bad behaviour. Reiterate bad behaviour will not be tolerated and that there will be consequences.

Importantly, take the time to view your workplace policies for compliance. Make sure your policies effectively manage discrimination, sexual harassment, bullying and harassment and other forms of bad behaviours. Your staff need to be aware of the procedures for making a grievance and/or lodging a formal complaint. They also need to be confident that if they lodge a grievance/complaint you will manage it promptly.

4. Drugs and alcohol

Address the use of illicit drugs and/or excessive consumption of alcohol. Remind staff that the use of illicit drugs is prohibited and against the law. Request your staff to drink responsibility (if they choose to drink) and to familiarise themselves with your drugs and alcohol policy.

Inform your staff that they will be refused service of alcohol if they appear to be intoxicated. If they behave badly, they may be required to leave the party early.

5. Responsible service of alcohol

Mix it up. Plenty of water, soft drink and other non-alcoholic alternatives on offer. If you have junior staff (under the age of 18 years), ensure they do not drink and they are not served alcohol. If you have a ‘Bar Tab’. What time will it cease? Ensure service of alcohol ends before the official party end time for good measure.

6. Plenty of food

If serving alcohol, ensure food is adequate and readily available. Cater for any special dietary requirements as some Vegans, Vegetarians and Celiacs may include alcohol in their diet too.

7. Responsible person(s) to oversee party

Appoint a responsible person(s) to keep an eye on staff and to take appropriate action before and/or should an unfortunate incident occur. If someone is behaving badly, act early.

8. Transport

Consider arranging transport to ensure all your staff have the ability to get home safely. Remind staff about transport options. Again state the obvious. Share a taxi/uber, catch public transport with a work colleague, arrange for a family member or friend to collect you from the party venue or train/bus station.

9. Selfies and Social Media

Your business brand and reputation can be severely damaged by inappropriate photos and posts circulated on social media. Direct your staff to familiarise themselves with your Social Media policy.

10. After parties (Buyer Beware)

Refrain from organising an ‘after party venue’. Do not set up a ‘bar tab’ or buy drinks for any staff members if you attend an ‘after party’. If an incident is going to occur, it’s usually at the ‘after party’.

By following our Workplace Party Checklist, you will be able to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to prevent an act of bad behaviour occurring. Should an unfortunate incident occur as a result of bad behaviour during and/or after your Christmas party official end time, you will be well placed to effectively manage any fallout and/or a potential claim(s) having set a few boundaries and Christmas party rules.

Joy to your business

A Christmas party and/or other workplace event, provides you with a great opportunity to thank your staff for their efforts and recognise their achievements. This very action in itself could well nurture a positive workplace culture. Now that’s a ‘Joy’.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

If you need any assistance with your workplace policies and procedures, give Ulton's HR Consulting team a call on (07) 4154 0413.



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