It is the festive season and a timely reminder of the do’s and don’ts for the office Christmas Party. If appropriate measures are not taken it can get out of hand, so much so, there is a Hollywood blockbuster about it! Rather than having an office Christmas Party that inspires such movies, with a few guidelines, you can minimise any potential legal risk and liability.

There are many cases regarding the office Christmas Party’s often revolving around excessive consumption of alcohol, workplace health and safety breaches and misconduct. Although there are some risks, the office Christmas Party is a great way for you to celebrate with your employees and build staff morale going forward.

Before you cancel the office Christmas Party to avoid any potential legal risk and liability if the following measures are taken it will likely significantly reduce any such risk and liability:

  • Ensure all employees are advised that Company policies still apply while at the office Christmas Party;
  • Do not have an “open bar” – if you do provide the option for alcoholic drinks try to limit this to one or two per person;
  • Have a cab charge or company Uber account that staff may utilise if they may have consumed too much alcohol or provide transport to and from the office Christmas Party; and
  • Ensure the Management and Executive Team are complying with Company policies and setting an appropriate example.

It is important to remember that as an employer you can be held vicariously liable for the actions of your employees, if there is an allegation of sexual harassment for example, at the office Christmas Party, you will need to show that you had appropriate policies and measures in place to mitigate this risk. Having evidence that a reminder was sent to the employees that workplace policies and procedures apply at the office Christmas Party along with the tips above will assist in mitigating this risk.

NB Lawyers, the lawyers for employers offer a consultation to discuss how they can assist you with any concerns you may have with the office Christmas Party.

Written by
Jonathan Mamaril, Principal & Director
NB Lawyers – the Lawyers for Employers
jonathanm@nb-lawyers.com.au
07 3876 5111

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