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Festive Spirit and the Workplace

The Festive Season is upon us. Time for eating, drinking, and being merry.

It is also time for workplace Christmas parties, which are a great way of building team spirit, but can result in all manner of trouble should they become TOO merry.

Generally, the location of the Christmas party is considered part of the “workplace”, despite not being on work premises. This means that employers have a duty of care to provide a safe workplace for employees.

To minimise risk, employers should:

  • Make sure workplace policies are up to date, including those on discrimination, bullying, harassment, alcohol and drugs. Circulate a reminder to staff in relation to the policies, and make sure that employees are aware of their obligations under these documents.

  • Consider employees’ travel to and from the venue, and whether it would be appropriate to provide transport.

  • Provide employees with a start and finish time for the function. Make it clear that any festivities that continue after the finish time, are not part of the work function.

  • Conduct a risk assessment of the venue.

  • Serve alcohol responsibly. Provide non-alcoholic options and plenty of water. Do not allow drinking games.

  • Provide adequate catering at the function to offset any alcohol consumed.

  • Train senior employees/managers on the workplace policies, and the appropriate conduct required at the party, and ensure that there is suitable supervision and monitoring at the event.

  • Check the business has all necessary insurance in place.

With some careful planning and preparation, employers can keep Christmas parties as the fun event they should be and avoid having them snowball into a new year nightmare.

This article is not legal advice and the views and comments are of a general nature only. This article is not to be relied upon in substitution for detailed legal advice.

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