With many workplaces starting to organise Christmas break up parties, employers are reminded the ‘silly season’ is not an excuse to disregard normal safe work practices, including responsible service of alcohol.
Employers should ensure staff understand what behaviour and conduct is acceptable, and what the repercussions are if they don’t act appropriately. Reminding people in advance of the policies around acceptable behaviour and conduct is a good start.
Managers also have an important role to play making sure events go smoothly and people go home safely.
Staff behaviour expectations do not change at a work function whether alcohol is involved or not. Workplace harassment, bullying and even violence are serious issues and losing inhibitions after a little too much cheer is no excuse.
Complaints are often made after work functions, especially when photos or comments are posted on social media during or after the event. It is wise to review and send out your social media policy before the celebrations start.
Staff shouldn’t feel pressured to drink alcohol, so make sure soft drink and food also are available. Employers, managers and workers all have a role to play: it’s easy to get carried away after a couple of drinks, but workers can’t rely solely on an employer to keep them safe if they take it too far.
Tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable Christmas party include:
- choose a venue that is appropriate for planned activities
- remind staff about workplace policies, including bullying and sexual harassment
- review and send out your social media policy
- serve alcohol responsibly
- ensure underage staff are not served alcohol
- ensure managers and senior staff members set a good example
- provide food and non-alcoholic drinks
- set function start and finish times
- choose a venue with access to public transport
- encourage nominated drivers who won’t be drinking alcohol
- ensure venue staff are briefed on limiting or denying alcohol to intoxicated staff.