4 December 2015

Ringing in the New Year without having to ring your Lawyers

With end of year festivities underway in most workplaces here are some helpful tips for employers to get the most out of celebrating while avoiding the fallout that often arises in the morning, week and month after.

1.  Manage the alcohol

As obvious, while perhaps controlling, as this may be perceived by some workers, employers must take steps to ensure the responsible service of alcohol to employees during the end of year party (and any party for that matter). This includes:

  • communicating with the venue about their procedures for ensuring the responsible service of alcohol;
  • offering light beer and soft drinks; 
  • providing plenty of tasty food throughout the night (preferably prior, or at least simultaneously, to the popping of champagne); 
  • a commitment to cutting off the service of booze at a reasonable time; and
  • recognising that employees “kicking on” doesn’t necessarily mean employers are absolved of any responsibility for their subsequent actions.

2.  Reminders are mandatory; make the most of them

Everyone expects the email from HR about the upcoming party, the organisation’s position on acceptable behaviour and the responsible consumption of alcohol - it’s a must for any employer. However, it doesn’t need to be a boring, killjoy communiqué that people don’t even bother to read. Use it as an opportunity to hype up the event while also getting the mandatory message across by treating employees as adults.

3.  Get home safe

If your event isn’t easily accessible by public transport, you need to provide a safe option for people to get home. Whether it’s handing out cab charges, arranging a bus or calling Ubers, designate a manager to stay sober and ensure that each and every attendee has an acceptable way home. The costs pale in comparison to the alternative if something goes wrong. 

4.  Entertainment in addition to booze

Just because dry parties are a tough sell in Australian workplaces doesn’t mean the bar has to be the only source of entertainment at the party. Arrange a Kris Kringle gift exchange, hire a band and think about some activities that don’t revolve around lemons and salt. Try organising a team building exercise that works towards building stronger ties among employees. 

5.  Have fun

Never forget what the party is about: celebrating the successes of the past year and setting the stage for an even better 2016. Use the event as an informal team building exercise where staff can bond and new team members can get to know the boss. The last thing you want is for this great opportunity to be turned into a disaster. 

Happy holidays from the whole PCS Team!

Posted in Legal Advice & Consulting.
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