Navigating the festive season

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Navigating the festive season


With the year quickly coming to a close and the festive season almost on our doorstep many of you will be busy preparing for client and staff functions. These events are a time to celebrate and let your hair down however businesses need to be mindful of the legal risks that arise from holding work-related functions.


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.


The holiday season is a great time to reward your employees and clients with an end of year celebration, so it’s important not to take the fun out of the festivities.  However by planning your event carefully and addressing any issues which arise during the function you can save yourself the legal “hangover” and still enjoy the festive season.


Article by Danica Burns