Staff safety at Christmas parties

The Christmas party is a joyous event, but it is also a work-sponsored function, and you have a duty of care to provide to your staff on the night. 

When it comes to planning your Christmas work party, it is important to take the necessary actions to prevent any situation where inappropriate conduct can occur. Being a work-related function, you are responsible for the safety and wellbeing of the guests in attendance. You can be held liable if a workplace claim arises from any inappropriate conduct occurring such as sexual harassment, drug use or derogatory comments. 

Before the big night consider the following: 

Email your staff 

Communicate to your staff via an internal email that this is a professional work-related event. Remind your staff of their obligation to uphold your business’ code of conduct and that normal disciplinary procedures will apply to those individuals who breach the code. Give them clear examples of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour during the celebrations. 

Ensure the venue safety 

When choosing where you will host your Christmas party, you must make sure the venue has adequate OH&S policies and evacuation plans in place. For instance, the venue must ensure safe service of alcohol and a clear exit signage in case of an emergency. Discuss with the venue provider about their relevant policies before purchasing the venue. 

Nominate a supervisor 

Whether it is you or a senior staff member, there should be a supervisor monitoring your employees during the party. In this way, the individual can identify and resolve any risks before they have the chance to escalate, such as restricting alcohol to an overly intoxicated employee and sending them home for the night. 

Consider after-party risks 

If you are supplying alcohol during the event, your employees may be intoxicated at the end of the night, so it is wise to pre-arrange travel arrangements from the Christmas party to ensure they travel home safely, such as a minibus or taxi. Make the start and end time of the Christmas party clear to all attendees and clarify that any ‘after-party’ events are not employer-endorsed.