Christmas Parties and HR

Christmas Parties and HR

Christmas Parties and HR


Throughout the festive season, many of you will have organised office parties, functions with clients and other events to celebrate the year coming to an end.  Whether the event is onsite at your workplace or booked for a function centre, social functions like these are considered to be work related.  Consequently, there are potential legal repercussions and pitfalls employers (and even employees) need to be mindful of.


No one wants to be the Christmas Grinch however there are some legal repercussions you should be mindful of, including claims of harassment, bullying, discrimination and workers compensation.  The good news is that by following some key steps you can minimise the risks of any unwanted behaviour.



Before the event there are a number of steps you can take to ensure everyone is on the same page when it comes to behaviour at work functions.  These include the following:


  • Review and update your workplace policies in advance (such as code of conduct, workplace health and safety, discrimination, bullying and harassment).
  • Remind employees of the firms expectations in respect of behaviour at workplace functions, including the need to adhere to your policies and drink responsibly.
  • Advise Managers to avoid conversations about performance, promotion, salary or career prospects as these can be easily misinterpreted or construed as a promise.



You can minimise potential party issues in the way you plan the event, by following these guidelines:

  • Set clear start and finish times for work functions, which can reduce any implications for your firm if an incident occurs after the event.
  • Plan to provide sufficient food and non-alcoholic drinks options. Always check if attendees have allergies, intolerances or dietary restrictions which need to be catered for.
  • If you have employee’s who are under 18 check the venue can cater for them and has processes in place to prevent them from being served alcohol.
  • Ensure appropriate transport is available for people to get home safely, especially if the event is held at a public place.


While these events are a time to celebrate the year gone by and enjoy the festive season, they do carry some risks to your business.  It is important to have fun and not to take the festive spirit out of your workplace functions – just make sure you have taken the appropriate steps to minimise the risk of post function claims.