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The Company Xmas Party

Published 05 Dec 2023

In the context of holiday festivities and staff social functions, it is imperative for management to uphold their responsibilities regarding both the well-being & safety of their employees and the maintenance of a professional atmosphere. An off-site or after-hours event does not absolve employers of their duty of care, but neither does it negate staff from being subject to the company's code of conduct and professional standards outside of work.

To pre-empt potential issues, it is advisable to explicitly communicate expectations regarding behavior. Potential serious misconduct issues, such as excessive drinking, antisocial behavior, drug use, fighting, inappropriate language, and sexual conduct, should be clearly outlined as unacceptable. These sorts of behaviours should of course be already covered in a workplace policy or the employment agreement.

While management aims to be generous, caution should be exercised in the provision of alcohol, and in particular it is wise to avoid providing limitless quantities. Additionally, it is essential to always provide food and non-alcoholic beverages. Management personnel play a crucial role in setting the tone for acceptable behavior also. Specify an official end time for the festivities and adhere to it. In cases where an employee is intoxicated, facilitate a plan to ensure their safe journey home, e.g. providing the numbers for taxi services, or arranging safe transportation for staff. 

For off-site events, attention should be given to the venue's adherence to Health & Safety obligations. Assess any potential risks and document inquiries with the venue staff, along with maintaining a paper trail for due diligence purposes in case it's required later.

In essence, the Christmas party serves as an opportunity for staff bonding and relaxation away from work pressures. However, a proactive and strategic approach to management ensures a festive atmosphere while upholding the company's standards and safeguarding the well-being of all participants.

If  you feel your policies and procedures are lacking in any respect or due for a review, we strongly suggest you look in our Policy Library on the Employers Toolbox. Comprehensive policies on drugs & alcohol, bullying & harassment, and disciplinary procedures are a good starting place for review this time of year. Non-members can purchase our Workplace Policy Pack if needed.