End of Year Celebrations

It is that festive exciting time of the year, and we are all looking over the fence for that last day of work for 2023 and not forgetting the celebrations to mark the ending of yet another year.

Yes! The end of year parties is what we need to be aware of. These socials are also an extension of the workplace.

It is very imperative to remember, especially if alcohol is “toastin and grillin” – employers need to balance out holding an enjoyable event with asserting a safe, respectful environment for employees.

We have some practical tips for you below:

  • Send an email well in advance to remind employees about conduct and behaviour at work related events. Be sure they have read and understand the relevant workplace behaviour policies before the social function.
  • Set a definite start and end time to the function and state this together with the location on the invitation to make it clear when the function will finish and where it is located.
  • Make it clear that there is no “after party” and that any festivities which continue after the finish time are not part of the official work function.
  • To ensure the health and safety of employees, inspect the venue for any obvious safety hazards or risks e.g. staircases, balconies, location for ease of getting home.
  • Set a limit on the amount of alcohol that can be served for free to employees.
  • Ensure there is plenty of substantial food and non-alcoholic beverages available.
  • Do not make the event compulsory.
  • Have a designated staff member or senior management to drink very little so that they can help supervise the event.
  • If the event is themed, ensure the theme is not likely to cause offence, exclude people, or lead to inappropriate or discriminatory costumes or displays.
  • If there is a “Secret Santa” or “Kris Kringle” make it clear that gifts should not be offensive, contain sexual content or anything racially offensive.
  • Be aware that if senior managers ‘kick on’ with employees after the event this could give the impression that the work-related function is continuing and that incidents which happen hours later have a connection to the employment for the purpose of legal claims.
  • If there is a complaint, such as sexual harassment or bullying, ensure it is dealt with in exactly the same way under the policy as it would be if it had happened during work hours or in the office.
  • While it can often be difficult to draw the line between conduct that may be said to have taken place within or outside the workplace, it should be possible for all employees to have a safe and enjoyable time at a work function.
  • A valid reason for dismissal as a consequence of an employee’s misconduct may exist if there is a connection between the out of hours misconduct and the employment.