You have one free articles for this month. Sign up for a CCIWA Membership for unlimited access.

Work functions — avoiding the silly season hangover

By Beatrice Thomas

When it comes to the festive season, workplace functions can be a recipe for disaster if the proper planning, policies, and procedures aren’t in place. 

Group of cheerful creative people having fun on Christmas party in the office. Focus is on blond woman.

According to Marcia Lawrence, CCIWA Senior HR Consultant, “calls to CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre often spike in January with employers seeking advice on incidents alleged to have occurred at end-of-year work functions”. 

After all, a safe and successful end-of-year function is not as simple as booking a location and inviting employees to turn up. Employers must take reasonable steps to prevent unlawful behaviour from occurring. 

So, what could constitute reasonable steps?

Here are CCIWA’s top 10 tips for a festive season function that is both enjoyable and safe for all:  

  1. Ensure that your organisation has tailored, relevant and up-to-date workplace policies and procedures. CCIWA’s experienced workplace relations team can help with drafting and reviewing organisational policies.
  2. Prior to any work-related functions, remind all employees of the workplace policies that apply and the potential disciplinary consequences of failing to comply with them. 
  3. Limit the duration of alcohol consumption with a set budget and a clearly defined start and finish time for the event.  
  4. Remind organisational leaders of obligations to ensure a workplace free of discrimination, harassment and bullying, and to provide a safe working environment for employees.  
  5. Ensure that all employees have received relevant training on appropriate workplace behaviours, including harassment, sexual harassment, and bullying. CCIWA can provide customised workplace behaviour training for your workforce. 
  6. Ensure responsible service of alcohol, including plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks.  
  7. Organisations should consider appointing a senior manager to abstain from consuming alcohol in order to supervise the function.  
  8. Communicate prior to the event the expectation that employees arrange a safe method of transport home.  
  9. Any allegations raised regarding conduct at the event should be dealt with in accordance with the applicable organisational policy. If in doubt, seek advice from CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre as a first step. 
  10. Ensure that the organisation has adequately trained individuals who can investigate allegations promptly and professionally. CCIWA offers training on Workplace Investigations and can provide tailored courses at your premises. Organisations may consider whether it is more appropriate for the investigation to be handled by an external investigator, such as CCIWA.
Close up of decorated christmas tree in office with business people working in background. Xmas celebration in corporate office. Detail of christmas balls and lights with working office.

The ingredients for your organisation’s end-of-year function are proper planning, backed by relevant policies and procedures. If you haven’t updated your policies within the last two to three years, now is a good time to review them. 

Until December 13, 2021, members can access a special policy and procedure package for $1500+GST — incorporating five policies/procedures tailored to your organisation: 

  • Bullying and harassment policy; 
  • Sexual harassment policy; 
  • Social media policy; 
  • Drug and alcohol policy; and 
  • Grievance procedure. 

Click here to enquire about this package.

Have a happy and safe festive season! 

For tailored advice, contact CCIWA Senior HR Consultant Marcia Lawrence on (08) 9365 7746 to assess your HR requirements.

When it comes to the festive season, workplace functions can be a recipe for disaster if the proper planning, policies, and procedures aren’t in place. 

Group of cheerful creative people having fun on Christmas party in the office. Focus is on blond woman.
According to Marcia Lawrence, CCIWA Senior HR Consultant, “calls to CCIWA’s Employee Relations Advice Centre often spike in January with employers seeking advice on incidents alleged to have occurred at end-of-year work functions”.  After all, a safe and successful end-of-year function is not as simple as booking a location and inviting employees to turn up. Employers must take reasonable steps to prevent unlawful behaviour from occurring.  So, what could constitute reasonable steps? Here are CCIWA’s top 10 tips for a festive season function that is both enjoyable and safe for all:  
Tagged under:

You may also be interested in