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Christmas Work Functions & potential problems

With the end of the year approaching, Christmas work parties are now underway. We want you to be able to have fun with your employees but the days of allowing staff behaviour to go unchecked, are well and truly over and rightly so.

Employers have a responsibility to ensure that at work Christmas parties, those in attendance don’t wake up with the hangover they will never forget, through exercising poor judgement while socialising together.

This is not about the fun police, it is simply protecting one’s health, safety and well-being, and even their job.


Before the event:

  • make employees aware of your expectations of their behaviour
  • advise them of their employment relationship obligations
  • arrange for food to be available and transport to get employees home safely

Often alcohol-fueled behaviour can degenerate past what is acceptable, resulting in serious breaches of an individuals employment agreement and other employment legislation.

Alcohol is often named or blamed as the cause behind assaults, sexual harassment, offensive behaviour, making the decision to drive drunk or making other poor judgements. It is not OK.

Employers must also be mindful of their own behaviour, which if deemed unacceptable, could result in serious consequences for themselves.

Remember, regardless of whether the party is held at work or outside work, when there is a link between the alleged misconduct and the work environment, that is all that matters. Employers are obligated to investigate any formal complaint received. The outcome could include a sanction of dismissal for serious misconduct.

The employer and employees alike should seriously look out for one another to ensure unacceptable behaviour does not spoil the party. Christmas should be fun, let’s keep it that way.

If you need any advice, contact your usual Baker Tilly Staples Rodway advisor before the party, rather than being ill-prepared and requiring a dispirin for your hangover later.

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