With the festive season just around the corner, AMMA Principal Workplace Relations Consultant Bill FitzGerald analyses the do’s and don’ts when hosting a function.

In the coming weeks, many employers will be preparing functions where food and alcohol are served as a gesture of good-will and as a way to thank employees.

Regrettably, despite the best intentions, these events often carry the possibility of adverse implications such as inappropriate behaviour, sexual harassment, workplace injury and assault or worse.

This can pose risks relating to workplace health and safety for members.

It is prudent to proactively plan for functions in order to mitigate this risk.

Employers are advised to remind employees that normal employment policies, such as code of conduct and bullying and harassment will apply, as the function is effectively an extension of the workplace.

It is advisable these policies, including social media policies, are rolled out and refreshed when the function is notified to remind employees of company values around respect and courtesy to others.

In addition, members should carefully plan the event and include aspects such as:

  • Nominating an event coordinator from the management team.
  • Stress that the coordinator can remove any employee who engages in inappropriate conduct and can monitor the responsible service of alcohol.
  • Stipulating a limited duration for serving alcohol and the actual finish of the function — and adhering strictly to those times.
  • Serve low alcohol drinks, plus water and soft drinks.
  • Provide healthy food and snacks.
  • Provide advice on safe transport to and from the function.

It is also wise to highlight there is a duty of care on all employees to look after each other.

Christmas functions are about rewarding staff for their hard work and giving them an opportunity to relax and enjoy the festivities and feel valued.

Through effective and proactive management, employers can ensure such team-building objectives are met while mitigating risk of any unfortunate incidents.

For more information or clarification on mitigating risks over the festive season, contact AMMA’s Principal Consultant based in AMMA’s Hobart Office, Bill FitzGerald.