‘Tis the season to be jolly and for a lot of businesses, it means it’s time to host their staff Christmas Party.

It’s a time to relax and unwind and celebrate the wins throughout the year. However, as a HR professional, I always err on the side of caution and want to make sure you have considered some of the risks.

So before you get frocked up and ready to party, take a few minutes to run through this quick checklist covering your obligations as a business owner.

1. assess any risk from a health and safety perspective

  • Any hazards or risks? [are you doing an activity or going to an outdoor venue – like a beach or park] What are the potential hazards that you can control?
  • Do you have any younger employees attending? Please take extra precautions, particularly if under the age of 18. Have a specific plan for these team members and an allocated senior person to be watching out for them.
  • Have you considered Covid or other health risks?
  • Are partners or families attending? Please take extra precautions because during the party, they are all on your watch.
  • Prepare for the worst. Make sure you have the ability to access emergency contact information or someone’s address in the event that an incident may occur. This could be as simple as taking them home in a cab.

2. event management

  • Have you specified the start and finish time? If you [as the owner or any senior member of the team] decide to host an after-party or continue to buy employees drinks after the specified finish time, you will most likely extend your obligations under WHS, EEO and code of conduct [in short – you are still responsible]Tip – Owners, Directors, HR team and Senior managers – lead by example and exit the venue once the official event time is over.
  • Have you arranged or ensured that employees can safely travel to and from the event? This may be as simple as checking if there are bus, train or cab ranks a short distance away.
  • Managing alcohol is important. Consider restricting the types of drinks offered [i.e. light beers and non-alcoholic options, no spirits, no shots]. This includes what people can purchase themselves.
  • Ensure that a substantial amount of food is provided. This will help slow down alcohol consumption and the effects of alcohol.

3. Employee expectations

  • In the lead-up to the event, please remind your employees of the expected standard of behaviour and the subsequent disciplinary consequences that may result. Resend your WHS, EEO and Code of Conduct to all attendees and request that they read them before the event date.
  • It is a work function, so all work policies apply.

4. supervision and manager/leaders responsibilities

  • Someone should be nominated to monitor any health or safety hazards, along with the consumption of alcohol. This may be your WHS Representative, a Director or a First aid officer/Emergency Warden. You should not rely on the venue staff to manage, however they can and usually are, very helpful.
  • As leaders of the business, the business owner, managers or supervisors should not be encouraging any behaviours that could be a risk to someone’s health and safety or conduct.Tip – Do not encourage anyone to drink alcohol or take part in any conduct that may be detrimental to them, or they have indicated that they do not want to.

5. debrief

  • Ask for feedback from managers and other key people in the business to ascertain how the event went. Are there any behaviours [even mild] that you need to follow up on? You must always be seen to be acting on a complaint or concern.
  • Review your risk assessments and make any changes for next time.

Finally, by carrying out these checks and understanding your obligations, you are going to enjoy the festivities and minimise your risks.


we’re here to help

If you need some help with any of the above, please give our People + Culture team a buzz on 1300 BDEPOT or get in touch at oneplace@businessdepot.com.au.



Originally authored by Anna Chipperfield.