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Staying safe at this year’s staff Christmas party (while still having fun)

By Jack Campbell | |5 minute read
Staying Safe At This Year S Staff Christmas Party While Still Having Fun

The silly season is just around the corner, and workplaces will surely begin organising Christmas parties. This is a great time to unwind; however, safety should still be acknowledged.

After all, workplaces still have a duty of care, regardless of whether onsite or at a pub. With this in mind, leaders should look to keeping health and safety accounted for.

“Under workplace health and safety laws, every business in Australia has a duty of care towards its employees. Simply put, this means that business owners have a responsibility to provide their employees with a safe system of work, and this extends to the working environment, conditions, tools, resources, and interactions,” said the head of content and training at Employsure, Ryan Price.


“Essentially, it also includes other activities an employee might engage in by virtue of their employment such as holiday celebrations organised by the employer.”

This is where policy regarding behaviour should be clearly outlined for workers. Alcohol, drugs, and transportation are all realistic and potentially dangerous things employers should consider.

“At an absolute minimum, it is recommended that businesses have clear and robust policies concerning drugs and alcohol as well as the business’s position in relation to their consumption at company events. Employers should also have a general code of conduct or appropriate behaviour policy outlining the general expectations and standards applicable to employees,” Mr Price explained.

“Beyond this, employers might also want to consider organising transport arrangements to and from events to ensure employee safety is maintained. Another consideration is limiting the consumption of alcohol by directing the venue or event organiser to limit alcohol consumption to a pre-determined amount.”

A risk assessment can be an effective way to prepare for potential madness: “Ultimately, the policies and control measures employers implement need to be based on their business, the environment they will be hosting their event at, and the risks and hazards associated. These should be identified by conducting a full and thorough risk assessment,” Mr Price continued.

Prioritising safety should not end when celebrations are involved. While this doesn’t mean fun needs to be ruined, thought should be given to employee wellbeing.

Mr Price commented: “Failing to appropriately assess, control and eliminate risks could expose a business to unnecessary fines and penalties. The consequences of failing to prioritise safety can essentially hurt a business’s bottom line.”

“Everyone benefits from safe workplaces, and safe work events. Just because it’s the silly season, it doesn’t mean employers can be arbitrary about employee safety.”

Another consideration is the cost-of-living troubles many are experiencing at the moment. Employers have the opportunity to help create a worry-free distraction from this and, at the same time, show appreciation for those who have pulled the company through the year.

“Christmas parties are an opportunity for social interaction and bonding through shared experiences that come around literally once a year. This year has been tough for many, and it’s an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their appreciation for their employees,” Mr Price outlined.

“With this in mind, if employers have previously held staff-funded Christmas parties or asked their staff to cover their own expenses, they should consider covering the costs this year to encourage staff engagement.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.