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Work Christmas parties - a little planning can stop things getting silly

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With many workplaces about to get together for Christmas break up parties, employers are reminded that the “silly season” is not an excuse to disregard safety, including the responsible service of alcohol.

Head of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland Craig Allen said employers must ensure staff understand what is acceptable and the possible repercussions if they don’t act appropriately.

“Reminding people in advance of the policies around acceptable behaviour and conduct is a good start,” Mr Allen said.

“That includes sending out drug and alcohol policies, bullying and harassment policies, social media policies and codes of conduct before the celebrations start.

“Managers should be on hand and sober enough to ensure events go smoothly and people start their journey home safely.

“Even if the function is held off site and or under the control of a third party, employers can face workers’ compensation claims and legal action as a consequence of inappropriate behaviour.”

Mr Allen said staff behaviour expectations did not change at a work function whether alcohol is involved or not.

“Workplace harassment, bullying and even violence are serious issues and losing inhibitions after a little too much cheer is no excuse,” he said.

“Complaints are often made after work functions, especially when photos or comments are posted on social media during or after the event.”

Mr Allen said staff shouldn’t feel pressured to drink alcohol, so make sure soft drinks and food are also available.

“Employers, managers and workers all have a role to play. It’s easy to get carried away after a couple of drinks, but workers can’t rely solely on an employer to keep them safe if they take it too far,” he said.

Tips to enjoy a safe and claim-free Christmas party include:

  • choose a venue that is appropriate for planned activities
  • remind staff about workplace policies, including bullying and sexual harassment
  • review and send out your social media policy
  • serve non-alcoholic drinks and ensure alcohol is served responsibly
  • ensure managers and senior staff members set a good example
  • set function start and finish times
  • choose a venue with access to public transport
  • encourage nominated drivers who won’t be drinking alcohol.

Further information is at www.worksafe.qld.gov.au.

Last updated
12 December 2019