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Office party

Five practical tips to avoid post-Christmas party legal claims

‘Tis the Season to be jolly, not careless –

With less than a month to go until Christmas, most businesses will find themselves busy organising the annual office Christmas party. If you haven’t started your organising yet, you should probably stop reading this article and start phoning some local venues and suppliers to avoid you and your staff missing out! Make sure that you return to read this article once you have a Christmas party planned, as it could come in handy!

Christmas is a great time of the year to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year with your staff, to thank them for the important part they play in your business and to relax over a cold beer or wine (perhaps even a couple of both)! Whilst there is nothing wrong with a drink or two (or three), there are key steps you need to take to reduce the risk of your business being exposed to a post-Christmas party legal claim involving (for example) sexual harassment, bullying or a workplace injury.

Here are Enterprise Legal’s top five tips to ensure the only post-Christmas party issue your business faces is a blown out bar tab and a couple of “sickies”.

Tip One: Pre-Party Precautions

Send an email to your staff a week before the event reminding them it is a work function and that the normal policies, procedures and workplace expectations will apply.

Follow the email up with a pre-party staff meeting the day of the event.

Tip Two: Policies and Procedures

Make sure all of your workplace policies are up to date, and at least appropriate cover off on the following potential risks:

  • Harassment, sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Expected behaviour at workplace events
  • Social media

Tip Three: Appoint a Supervisor

Appoint a trusted staff member to supervise the event, behaviours at the event and manage the responsible service of alcohol (or liaise with the venue regarding same) and empower them to take appropriate steps in circumstances where they identify a workplace health and safety hazard or risk.

Tip Four: Transport To and From

Make it clear to your employees that transport will be arranged by your business and that you encourage them to use it at the time(s) stipulated, or tell your employees what options are available to them to ensure they arrive home safely.

Tip Five: Post-Party Complaints

Make sure that any post party complaints are dealt with promptly and appropriately. This is the biggest indicator that a potential claim is looming and experience shows that handling the complaint properly (including seeking legal advice where appropriate) can significantly reduce the likelihood of a claim.