With the festive season just around the corner, most employers are looking to hold an end-of-year function to cap-off what has been a very tough year for most. Festivities are well in order and there are steps you can take to ensure these festivities are safe and incident-free.

We outline eight steps you can take to reduce the risks at your work function:

  • adopt a COVID-19 safety plan – if you are holding your own private function at a site you control, consider adopting a COVID-19 safety plan for the event. Follow the Department of Health's social distancing guidelines in your jurisdiction
  • control food and beverages – if food is provided, consider a set menu rather than shared buffet and also accommodate any special dietary requirements, particularly health-related ones. Place time limits on the alcohol supply. Do not arrange or pay for drinks at alternative venues after the event has finished, as this may extend your liability
  • pay attention to environmental hazards – 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
  • conduct security checks – make it clear to workers that events are only authorised for a specific period of time and check whether everyone has left the venue at the end of the event
  • ensure responsible drinking – remind your workers of the repercussions of excessive drinking, the legal driving limits and their responsibility to drink alcohol responsibly
  • supervise on-site – ensure there is sufficient responsible supervision in place to prevent excessive drinking and inappropriate behaviour. Those people will not be drinking but are there to monitor and stop incidents of bullying, harassment and discrimination
  • arrange transportation to and from the venue – consider how your workers will travel to and from the venue. In the current environment of COVID-19, the provision of safe travel to and from the function becomes even more important
  • re-emphasise worker's conduct – remind your workers about your social media policy, including that disciplinary action can be taken if inappropriate photos or comments are posted online about staff.

What if you are using a third-party provider?

If you are using a third-party provider, you should 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 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 COVID-19 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.