As employees look forward to celebrating the year gone by, employers should not lose sight of their responsibilities.
It is easy for staff to become overly enthusiastic at office functions. However, it is the employer who may be held liable for any injury or misadventure suffered by an employee at or directly after an office function, especially if alcohol is supplied.
Employers may also face liability for any form of sexual or emotional harassment suffered by one employee from another.
All employees attending the party should be made aware of their responsibilities and expected behaviour before the event, as well as disciplinary procedures for employees who breach these standards. In the event of any serious breaches of conduct, action should be taken in the days following the Christmas party, not left to be dealt with in the new year.
If the party is to be held off premises, employers should visit the venue to make an assessment on any possible risks, and ensure that occupational health and safety requirements are met.
Alcohol should be served responsibly by personnel who are qualified to do so. Many venues employ bartenders who are trained for these functions and will be able to manage rowdy partiers.
It is a good idea for employers to arrange safe travel arrangements for employees, either by handing out cab charges or organising a mini bus. Any employee who has a drink driving related accident on the way home from a function may be able to hold their employer’s business responsible.
Ensuring all risks are managed will give employers the peace of mind they need. The most important part of Christmas parties is for everyone to enjoy themselves and create lasting memories and a stronger team that can be carried into the new year.