As the end of the year draws closer businesses often have workplace celebrations or parties. Christmas parties, or any business social functions for that matter, can quickly turn from celebration to litigation if not managed carefully.

Preventing The Party Hangover – The annual business Christmas party can be the breeding ground for harassment claims, problems due to alcohol or drug use and other inappropriate behaviour.

The bad news for employers is that they may be found vicariously liable for the acts committed by their employees in the course of their employment regardless of if the employer knew or approved of the offending behaviour. This liability is not confined to the workplace, but employers can also be held accountable for their employee’s behaviour during post work drinks, an employee’s leaving party and the annual Christmas party.

By following these few simple steps you can reduce the risk to your business and enjoy the holiday fun:

  • Before the social function remind your employees that the function will be covered by the employer’s HR policies and that any inappropriate behaviour may result in disciplinary action including dismissal.
  • Ensure the content of any professional entertainment is appropriate and will not offend anyone that is attending the event.
  • Remind employees of their responsibilities to make any necessary travel arrangements to get home safely at the end of the event. In circumstances where you are holding a function that is a significant distance from the workplace you may consider arranging a courtesy coach or cab charge vouchers for staff.
  • Managers should be briefed on their responsibilities. Not only should managers be setting a good example to other employees but they should also maintain order and ensure that no employee’s behaviour is getting out of hand.
  • If your going to have an open bar you need to ensure the responsible service of alcohol
  • Ensure that there is sufficient food available at the function proportionate to the quantity of alcohol available.
  • If a complaint arises about behaviour at the Christmas party, you need to ensure that this complaint is dealt with promptly and investigated if required