By Isaac Chan

This year has been unusual and incredibly challenging, to say the least. Aussies were hit hard at the beginning of 2020 with fires and floods and then a deadly pandemic swept the world. It’s a year many would rather forget.

With the silly season fast approaching, it’s no surprise then that your employees will be looking forward to the end of year events. While many employers have decided to put a hold on the annual Christmas shindig (thanks COVID-19), there are some who have decided to celebrate with their staff and host a party.

If your business has decided to celebrate 2020, it’s a good idea that employers proceed with extra caution. Here I point out a few things to consider.

1. Christmas festivities and alcohol

Whether your business has decided to hold a day function or an after-hours event, you must operate in accordance with the relevant state COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.

It’s only natural that some of your employees will want to spread some Christmas cheer while enjoying alcohol. While it’s a normal part of Christmas parties, employers need to ensure that employees are doing this safely and responsibly. This means that should an employee start to overindulge it may be necessary to encourage them to slow down or ultimately cut them off and send them home.

2. COVID-safe events

Even if your Christmas festivities will be held at the office this year, the same COVID-19 rules will apply so employers must ensure that the event complies with the relevant state COVID-19 rules.

This may mean that you’ll need to rethink how food and alcohol are not only served but consumed. Do all staff need to be seated? What measures will be taken to reduce the risk of contamination of food and drink?

3. Workplace liability

In any event that has been conducted or organised by the company, there is an extension of duty of care from the company during that time so it’s important that you are mindful of your employees’ safety in their participation of these events. This means it’s important to take extra steps to mitigate any harm to employees such as limiting their alcohol consumption or organising a way for all employees to get home at the end of the festivities.

The end of the year is a time for celebration, but the safety of your employees is paramount. If you decide to host a Christmas party, it’s important that your business takes extra precautions this year and all should go smoothly.

If your business has any questions or concerns about your end-of-year event, contact the team at HR Assured.

Isaac Chan is an experienced workplace relations consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured Australia. Isaac regularly handles complex workplace issues for all kinds of businesses, from start-ups to enterprise-level.