It is that time of year again, the holiday period is just around the corner and the excitement of the work Christmas party is setting in.
End-of-year celebrations are an important way for employers and staff to reflect on the progress they have made as a team throughout the year. It is also a time to develop interpersonal relationships with one another and build company culture. However, employers need to consider the potential hazards which may arise from end-of-year events and the various legal obligations associated with holding a work function.
An employer may be held liable for any injury which occurs at an event, as well as injuries of employees travelling to and from the venue. It is always advisable to have a discussion with the venue about their OHS policies and evacuation plans.
Employers can also face issues arising from any form of sexual or emotional harassment that an employee is subject to at a company event. Areas such as drug and alcohol use, conduct, confidentiality and breach of company policies or procedures need to be given special caution, as these are common issues associated with end-of-year celebrations.
All employees attending the party should be reminded of their responsibilities and expected standard of behaviour before the event. You should put in place very clear disciplinary procedures for any transgressions.
Alcohol should be served responsibly and by qualified personnel, as required by the responsible service of alcohol regulations. It is a good idea for employers to organise safe travel arrangements for their employees, such a handing out cab charges or hiring a mini bus.
If employees choose to continue partying and the after party is not arranged by your company, ensure that this is made clear. Start and finish times should be clearly set out prior to the event.
Employers should also be aware that actions such as placing a tab behind a bar at an after party could give rise to liability for behaviour into the early hours of the morning.