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Christmas Parties and Your Obligations


Over the next week, we are all likely to be celebrating with our colleagues farewelling 2023 and celebrating the yearly achievements. The festive season is a great time to let our hair down and kick our heels up, but it is not a time to become complacent about the obligation and responsibility to provide employees with safe work, and work related, environment, which includes holiday and Christmas parties arranged by the employer. The fun should still be had. However, thought should be given to ensuring employee wellbeing and safety.

As an employer can be held responsible for the behaviour of employees at the work Christmas party, it is important to ensure that employees are aware of what is and is not considered acceptable behaviour. Setting such parameters in a workplace behaviour and/or conduct policy which clearly outlines expectations and consequences is a great place to start. Now is a timely reminder to employers to review policies and perhaps refresh employees on their obligations to ensure not only their wellbeing but the welling of their fellow co-workers.

Risk assessments are also an effective way to identify potential risks and may assist in putting appropriate control measures in place to mitigate or eliminate identifiable risks. Under the ACT Code of Practice in Managing Psychosocial Hazards at Work employers are required to identify, assess, control and review hazards which have the potential to cause psychosocial hazards. Psychosocial hazards include, but are not limited to violence, aggression, bullying, and harassment including sexual harassment.

Some other examples which may assist in getting through the party season include:

  • Setting the example for the attendees – ‘monkey see, monkey do’
  • Create and 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 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
  • Most importantly, have fun and stay safe!

If you would like further advice on meeting your obligations or want more information, the Workplace Relations and Legal team are here to help. Please contact us on 02 6175 5900.