Christmas is a wonderful time of the year and office parties and
customer and supplier events provide us with an opportunity to
celebrate the festive season and our achievements over the
Employers can take numerous steps to ensure their workers are
safe and act appropriately at end-of-year celebrations such as:
Choice of Venue
Choosing a restaurant is a much safer option than having it at
an adult themed venue. Choose a place that's safe, work
appropriate and easy to access for all your employees. If you
choose a relatively public space, reserve a dedicated area that
will remain within your control throughout the event. Organise
travel arrangements from the venue such as taxis or public
transport, for employees to get home safely.
Start and finish times
Ensure employees know when your party officially starts and ends
and remind workers that celebrations that continue after the
designated finish time aren't endorsed by the company. In other
words, make the distinction between the end of your
company-sanctioned Christmas party and the start of unrelated
partying as clear as possible. Physically close down the venue at
the scheduled end time to make it clear that the party has
Choice of Entertainment
Consider whether the entertainment you have chosen is
appropriate. You may think this goes without saying, but you'd
be surprised just how many employers set the wrong tone for their
event by selecting the wrong type of entertainment. It is a good
idea to have actually seen a sample of the entertainment before
letting it loose on your employees who may well be offended by
Make someone responsible
You need put someone responsible in charge to minimise the
chances of something going awry during the event. This should be
someone who is sensible and a senior member of your team who is
happy either not to drink or to keep their drinking to a minimum.
They should monitor any bar tab, ensure that there is food
available and that anyone who may have overdone it has a means to
travel home safely.
Set clear expectations
The Christmas party is an employment related event and this
means employees should be reminded that the function is actually a
work event and ensure they know relevant workplace policies –
such as WHS, anti-discrimination, sexual harassment and social
media policies – apply at the event; You need to inform
employees that failure to follow policies and procedures, or any
reasonable or lawful direction, could result in disciplinary
action, including dismissal. Remind employees about appropriate
dress (if it is a themed party) and that presents (eg for Kris
Kringle) should not be offensive or inappropriate, to refrain from
posting inappropriate messages and photos on social media or online
generally or anything that they would not want to see on the front
page of the Sydney Morning Herald!
If there are post-party complaints, make sure each issue is
dealt with according to your policies.
Celebrations are much more enjoyable for everyone when
acceptable standards of behaviour are maintained and much more
memorable when there are no disasters to deal with afterwards.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
This WHS decision clarified the interpretation of s 19 of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (NSW).
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).