With Christmas just around the corner, most employees will soon be enjoying some hard-earned down time at the office end of year party.

But some steps need to be taken to ensure a safe and incident-free Christmas party.

We have prepared a Christmas party checklist for employers to help ensure a risk free festive season.

Christmas party safety checklist

  • venue: If your function will take place outdoors, there may be additional environmental hazards, such as high temperatures or slippery surfaces caused by rain. Check whether first aid facilities are available at the venue
  • security: Is the level of security provided sufficient for the party? Make it clear to employees that events are only authorised for a specific period of time and check whether everyone has vacated the premises at the end of the event
  • food and beverage options: If food is provided, accommodate any special dietary requirements put forth by your staff. Place time limits on the alcohol supply and do not arrange or pay for drinks at alternative venues after the event is finished as this extends your liability
  • responsible drinking: Ensure all employees are aware of the repercussions of excess drinking, the legal driving limits and the responsibility of employees to drink alcohol sensibly and legally. Avoid serving employees below the legal drinking age with alcohol and take steps to address workplace attitudes that condone excessive drinking
  • inappropriate behaviour: Is supervision in place to prevent excessive drinking and inappropriate behaviour? Are there steps you can take to prevent incidents of bullying, harassment and discrimination? How will you respond if a complaint of bullying or harassment is made?
  • transportation to and from the venue: Consider the provision of travel to and from the function. If employers cannot arrange transportation for staff, alternative means can include taxis, Uber, public transport or designate non-drinking drivers
  • social media: Refresh staff on your social media policy to ensure that inappropriate photos and comments are not posted online about your staff. The risk of a harassment or bullying claim is higher with these types of functions.

If you take these steps, you're sure to have a safe and incident-free Christmas function that will be enjoyable by all your staff.

What if a third party will host the event?

If a third-party provider will be organising and hosting the event, you will need to ensure that the provider is competent and that the activity is safe for all workers.

To do this, check that the third-party provider:

  • is qualified to host the event
  • has experience hosting similar functions or events
  • has proper systems in place to control any risks involved with the activity, e.g. security, first aid supplies and policies for serving alcohol responsibly
  • has enough resources to ensure that systems will be operating effectively, e.g. sufficient security guards and other staff
  • has a safe environment in which to host the function
  • has a good safety record.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.