Planning for Your Workplace Christmas Parties
It’s that time of year again. Getting cosy with your family and friends, ready to watch Elf for the 19th year in a row? The Merry Season has arrived!
Aside from the time spent with family and friends and the chaos that ensues with wrapping up for the year, December is filled with Christmas parties as teams celebrate the end of the working year. While this is usually a jolly good time, it is important to remember that these parties are still a “work function” and that everyone needs to remember that there are duties and expectations involved.
In most instances, Christmas parties tend to be held in an informal setting, allowing employees to have alcoholic beverages and socialise in a relaxed atmosphere. While employees have worked hard throughout the year and are well deserving of this opportunity, this type of situation inherently increases the risks of employee injury or poor or serious conduct (like bullying, sexual harassment, and the use of inappropriate language). As a result, it is important that employers are aware of the risks involved, warn their employees about the acceptable standards of behaviour required and have planned ahead in an attempt to prevent any problems occurring.
To do this, we have prepared some tips below that employers should follow to help reduce the risk of any issues arising.
1. Review Policies and Procedures
Ensure that all policies and procedures are up to date. This includes any policies around work functions, acceptable workplace behaviour (such as drug and alcohol, bullying, sexual harassment, or discrimination policies) and consider a specific policy around end of year/Christmas functions – even if this takes the form of an email as it gets closer to the event date.
In line with reviewing your policies, ensure you have a policy around how complaints and investigations are managed.
2. Briefing your Employees
Consider discussing the above policies and reminding the team of their responsibilities during team meetings as the event approaches, focusing on:
- Making appropriate travel arrangements to and from the event. This can be achieved by ensuring there is ready access to public transport from the venue;
- Reiterating that there are still expected standards of behaviour that must be met given it is a work function;
- Warning that any inappropriate behaviour will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination
3. Responsible Alcohol Consumption
If alcohol will be provided/available, employers should ensure:
- Adequate food is available; and
- There is a senior/management representative/s nominated to supervise the event who is capable of managing any issues that may arise. This person’s contact details should be made available to employees attending the work function so that they have someone to reach out to should an issue arise.
4. Start and Finish Times
Ensure you establish the start and finish times of your work function, making it very clear that any continuation of the festivities after the finish time is neither approved by the employer nor considered an extension of the work function. This does not mean you will not be held liable for any accidents or misbehaviour that happen after the function (especially where during the function there was no proper management) but it does reduce the risk of it.
5. COVID-19 Safety
COVID-19 is not as significant a consideration in planning work functions in 2022 as it was in 2019 to 2021. However, you should still be looking at ways to mitigate the risk of an outbreak of COVID-19 at your work functions:
- Check into whether the venue at which you are hosting the work function has a COVID-19 safety plan;
- Ensure to keep to the advised maximum number permitted in the venue
- Keep up to date on any changes in restrictions imposed by the Government if there is a spike in cases
While issuing these reminders and putting these practices in place may feel like you are the Grinch that stole Christmas, taking the time and effort to ensure that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and putting some preventative measures in place will help employees stay relaxed and enjoy the end of year festivities.
As always, if you need assistance to prepare for your Christmas party or deal with any issues which arise at your event, contact the team at Business Solutions Hub on 1300 445 687 or at email@example.com.