Planning the perfect Christmas party

We’re not party planners, but these tips can help you arrange a Christmas party that is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Christmas parties are a good way for staff to unwind and to celebrate the achievements of the year. Even if the party is not at the workplace, or is outside of work hours, employers have an obligation to look after the health and safety of their staff. This means taking steps to avoid accidents or inappropriate behaviour, like sexual harassment and bullying.

Before the party begins, employers should remind staff of their expected behaviour. Businesses may have policies or codes of conduct in place to determine appropriate behaviour and should remind employees of these.

What are workplace policies?

Employers should make sure that the party venue is appropriate and that all health and safety measures can be put in place. This could include making sure transport options are available; that there are sufficient facilities for the wellbeing of staff and the venue has no hazards. The employer may consider having a person responsible for the event present during the party, who can stay alert and keep an eye out for risks.

Health and safety at work

Alcohol can be a major factor in inappropriate behaviour and a health and safety risk. Employers should take steps to encourage moderate alcohol consumption. They could do this by making sure that there is enough food and non-alcoholic drinks available and having managers lead by example. Employers could also consider having a cut-off time for alcoholic drinks.

Employers should remind employees of their responsibilities as set out in the workplace drugs and alcohol policy, particularly if employees need to work the day after the party.

Drugs, alcohol and work

While employers don’t have to provide transport for employees to get home from the party, their health and safety obligations do mean that they need to put steps in place to make sure their staff can get home safely and don’t drink and drive. Employers could advise employees of the public transport options available, arrange taxis before the party ends, or arrange sober drivers.

Businesses should consider their reputations during the Christmas party, as poor behaviour could reflect badly on the organisation’s brand and damage its reputation. Some employees may decide to continue the party after the work Christmas party ends. They should be reminded that their actions could negatively affect the employer’s reputation, particularly if they are wearing uniforms or name badges.

Employee actions outside of work

If an employee is suspected of bad behaviour at the Christmas party, then employer should conduct a fair investigation in good faith. Any type of harassment that occurs at the party may be misconduct and must be addressed properly by the employer.

Sexual harassment

Misconduct and serious misconduct

Employers may also want to take additional measures around COVID-19, like having hand sanitiser available and also remind employees to stay home if they feel sick.

Operating safely – what you need to think about - Worksafe (external link)

Workplaces should also respect people’s differences. Not everyone likes to attend a Christmas party – employers should make sure that all employees are included, but also respect those who don’t want to take part in the festivities.

If you follow these tips, you should be able to plan the perfect Christmas party that is safe and fun for everyone.