HR Tips & Answers

Christmas Parties and other Work functions – how everyone can enjoy them!

OK, put your hand up.   Who has been to a work function, where alcohol has been served and there was some incident during or after the function?

Yep, I can see a sea of hands waving madly.  So ,what does that mean for you as a business owner or manager?

  • Firstly, it is considered a business function, even if it is held offsite, so as owner or manager you are liable.
  • Even after the function finishes you are still liable till your staff get to their home. So, if they kick on at the pub after your Christmas party or work function and one of your employees gets involved in an incident, – you as the owner or manager can still be held responsible. Depending on the circumstances of the incident your responsibility may be diminished but you could still be held partially responsible.

So, what rules are you going to put in place around your next work function and if someone does step over the line – what are your responsibilities as the business owner or manager?  Well, here are some suggestions:

  • Prior to the function inform all the staff in writing that you expect them to behave and at the end of the function to all go home.
    A good idea is to give every staff member a written invitation to the function where you can set out the rules along with the venue details etc, even if it is being held in-house.
  • You may need to limit the types and amount of alcohol available. For example:
    • Light beers or even Zero alcohol beer.
    • Wine to be served by function staff only who can control the amount that is being served.
    • No bottles on the tables.
    • The only alcohol to be served is what you have requested. eg No cruisers or spirits etc to be served even if your staff want to pay for it themselves.
  • Talk with the function staff and set a dollar limit on the alcohol.
  • Make food and water available all the time.
  • Have some trusted staff who you can ask to be marshals to enjoy themselves but watch the others to see who may be pushing the envelope.
  • Do you need to hire a bus to take staff to the function then drop them back to a place where they can get home safely?

What if someone does step over the line?  If you have informed them in writing prior to the function then you have made a great start to limiting the impact. But, and there is always a “but”, as the owner or manager,  you are still accountable for your staff during and after a work function.

Remember we are here to help, so if you would like to know more please don’t hesitate to call us to discuss 02 6009 1000.


The WorkBetter Team

Published: Monday, September 27th, 2021

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