Meet your employer responsibilities and keep your employees safe at social events!

Hard to believe I know but the fifth season of the year – the Silly Season – is upon us again!

Irrespective of whether the event is the annual staff party, Friday night drinks or a special celebration, these events can be a great way to relax, enjoy each other’s company and celebrate a job well done.

Regardless of where these events are held – at the workplace or off-site – as the employer you are the host and as such you need to be aware of your responsibilities when alcohol is available at work functions.

Here are some easy things you can do to make sure that if you choose to include alcohol at staff functions, everyone has a great time, looks after each other and no one ends up drinking too much and making decisions they might later regret.

  • Involve staff in the planning and organising of events
  • Have senior staff present for the entire time who remain alcohol free
  • Inform staff of drink-driving laws and put steps in place to ensure their health and safety during and after functions which could include:
  • Providing information about safe drinking
  • Identifying excessive drinking and stopping supply of alcohol if necessary
  • Providing plenty of food and non-alcoholic alternatives
  • Encouraging people to arrange transport home or providing transport options
  • Reiterating the company’s rules around alcohol consumption and company vehicles
  • Take particular care of young people – you should also be aware that it is unlawful to supply alcohol to persons under 18 years old without express parental consent, and any alcohol must be supplied in a responsible manner. You could be fined if found in breach of this law
  • Model good behaviour yourself

Without putting a dampener on a function before it starts it is worth reminding employees about expected standards of behaviour, social drinking and the importance of ensuring everyone gets home safely after having an enjoyable time.

Remember, there are many ways to celebrate, relax and get to know each other without involving alcohol. Having a shared lunch, a Friday night BBQ, quiz night or something where staff can bring their partners and kids along are also excellent ways to acknowledge people and have a bit of fun.

When something goes wrong

While most workplace social events pass without incident, from time to time issues arise, usually

where alcohol is involved, that may need to be addressed. Poor behaviour and conduct that occurs both within and outside the workplace can lead to disciplinary action. What is an appropriate response will obviously depend on the particular circumstances and how you respond to each situation is likely to be different – ranging from a quiet word with the employee about their behaviour to formal disciplinary action including dismissal in the most serious cases.

If you have a situation where there has been a complaint or allegation of inappropriate behaviour and conduct, we strongly recommend you seek HR advice as soon as possible.

Responsible hosting helps people to enjoy themselves and stay safe. There are plenty of simple things you can do to be a responsible host and reduce the risks. These steps will also help you meet your legal obligation to ensure the safety of your employees.

Keep Your Employees Safe At Christmas Functions


Book a complimentary 15 minute consultation now with our Director, Tanya Gray.