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Christmas Parties and your Obligations


Over the past month and the next few days ahead, we are all likely to be celebrating with our colleagues, over drinks and nibbles. It is important to note that an employer can be held responsible for the behaviour of employees where an employee loses their inhibitions (due to excessive alcohol consumption and/or the use of drugs) at the work Christmas party.  Statistics show that bullying and harassment is more common to occur during such social occasions but other serious issues might arise, such as driving under the influence, refusing to obey reasonable and lawful direction to name a few. 

Now is a good time (prior to the Christmas party) to look at what you can do to mitigate any risks to you as the employer and to reinforce those expectations of workers when you all hang your tool belts up for the year to celebrate.  

Some tips might include: 

  • Setting the example for the attendees – ‘monkey see, monkey do’; 
  • Create and/or remind your workers of your drug/alcohol, bullying and sexual harassment policies; 
  • Where alcohol is to be consumed – having a person responsible for enforcing the responsible service of alcohol, having non-alcoholic alternatives available, serving food and/or providing transport home; 
  • Dealing with complaints appropriately and as soon after the complaint has been made; 
  • Do not make any rash decisions – such as firing a worker – or making inappropriate comments which could result in a claim being made against you; and 
  • Most importantly, have fun and stay safe!