Guest Blog Article: Di Holmes discusses the festive season and appropriate festive behaviour

Di Holmes discusses below the upcoming festive season and what kind of festive behaviour is appropriate for employees and employers:

It’s been a long year and it’s time to say thanks to our employees!!

With the festive season in full swing, and most of us wanting to say “thanks” to our employees with a dinner or party, we need to be aware of the balance of saying thanks and risks to your business!

The festive season, December to January, is a time of year when many people look forward to winding down at work and to parties, celebrations and holidays. Many employers reward their staff for their efforts during the year by throwing a work-sponsored party, either on the premises or at an outside venue. The party provides employees with an opportunity to relax and socialise together before the coming holiday season.

Ensuring appropriate standards of behaviour and safety at the work party will assist in avoiding legal claims, but will also ensure that the party is enjoyed by all who attend.

Should you have a celebratory function coming up, here are some “steps” to help you minimise potential risks:

Steps to avoid risks and ensure appropriate behaviour:

Employers can take steps that will assist in preventing legal claims arising out of the work party. These include:

  • Reminding employees of the standard of behaviour that is expected of them before the party, for example, by redistributing the Workplace Harassment Policy or raising the matter at a staff meeting.
  • Managers should circulate during the party to ensure that no inappropriate behaviour is taking place and model appropriate behaviour themselves.
  • Where inappropriate behaviour is observed by a manager, immediate steps should be taken to stop the behaviour. This may necessitate sending the offending employee home, in a taxi, if necessary. Disciplinary action may be warranted on the employee’s return to work, depending on the circumstances. Any such disciplinary action should be taken in accordance with the employer’s discipline and termination policies and procedures.
  • If an employee becomes too intoxicated, he or she should be sent home in a taxi or driven home by a work colleague.
  • The employer should place limits on the supply of alcohol at the party. One way of doing this is to provide each employee with a voucher entitling them to a limited number of alcoholic drinks.
  • The employer should provide soft drinks, light alcoholic drinks and preferably serve food at the party.
  • The employer could have facilities at the party to enable employees to test their blood alcohol level.
  • If the venue for the party is off-site, the employer should provide transport to the site and back to the workplace after the party.
  • The employer could ask for volunteers for non-drinking drivers and arrange carpools for the purposes of transporting employees home.

Best Wishes and Happy New Year everyone!


Di Holmes (the people guru @ Winning Attitudes & Solutions)