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Planning end of year work celebrations

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Prevention is better than a cure

As the end of another year approaches, employers are understandingly planning a well-earned opportunity for employees to celebrate the year that has been.

As the end of another year approaches, employers are understandingly planning a well-earned opportunity for employees to celebrate the year that has been.

Whether employers are planning a company-wide party, team lunch or casual after work drinks, the potential risks associated with hosting end of year celebrations should not be overlooked. Employers should now start engaging in careful planning of any upcoming work-related event in order to minimise the literal and figurative headaches that may arise after the celebrations have come to an end.

This blog will address some practical tips that employers, HR managers and social committee members should consider when planning end of year celebrations.

Standards of behaviour

Employees should be reminded about the standards of conduct and behaviour at work-related events well in advance. This will include reminding employees that conduct and behaviour that is inappropriate, amounts to sexual harassment and/or breaches work health and safety obligations will not be tolerated.

This time of the year is generally a good time to roll out refresher training on the code of conduct or workplace behaviour policies. Employees should be made aware that any workplace behaviour policy applies not only in the workplace but extends also to work-related events.

Start and finish times

When sending out an invitation and any follow-up information about the event, it is important for employers to be clear about the start time, finish time and location.  Employers should also make clear that there is no “after party” and that any festivities which continue after the finish time are not part of the official work function.

Food and drinks

When planning a work-related event, employers should ensure that plenty of food is available particularly if alcohol will also be made available to employees.

Of course, employers should not feel obliged to supply alcohol at work-related events. However, if they choose to do so, it is recommended that employers supply plenty of water as well as alcoholic, low alcoholic, and non-alcoholic options.  

Assess the environment

Employers’ duties to ensure the health and safety of employees extend to providing a safe environment at work-related events. Accordingly, any venue should be safe and as far as reasonably practicable, free from hazard or risk. This may include an assessment of whether there is accessible means of transportation to and from the event.

Careful consideration should also be given to whether the event involves a group activity that is physical or recreational. If such an event is planned, employees must be required to wear appropriate attire. Employers should be mindful that they will be found liable under workers compensation laws for any injuries sustained during such activities.

Attend our upcoming webinar

On 10 November 2022, our Managing Director and Principal, Athena Koelmeyer will be taking a deep dive into the importance of carefully planning work-related events and managing the risks associated with the fallout of such events. If you haven’t already done so, you can register for our "Dancing with myself - Hosting and surviving work social functions” webinar here.

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog, or from links on this website to any external website. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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