If you’re a business owner, Operations Manager or HR Manager, now is the time to start planning your office holiday party. We aren’t the experts on planning unforgettable events. But we can provide you with tips to ensure your end-of-year party is memorable for the right reasons.

With all your effort going into organising a menu, theme, and venue, compliance measures can fall by the wayside. To help protect your business, we’ve prepared a party-planning compliance checklist to protect your night out from becoming an HR disaster:

1. Set the ground rules

You will be telling your team all about the party, where it is, what you will be doing etc.  This is the first important opportunity you have to set standards of behaviour and to reiterate the need to be safe.  This should include everything from telling them to monitor and control how much they drink to letting them know how they get to the venue and home safely. By setting out the ground rules, you’re ensuring that you can discipline unacceptable behaviour fairly if these rules are broken by your employee.

2. Set a limit on the bar tab (Managing the supply)

This will probably be an unpopular decision with staff.  However, setting a limit on the bar tab, either by amount or by what is included, will save you a lot of money and help avoid the onslaught of lawsuits that typically follow the holiday season… A limited bar tab communicates your expectations for drinking responsibly and may discourage employees from excessive alcohol consumption. You can also ensure that alcohol is physically served to employees rather than provided as an unrestricted service to give you some control over discretely “cutting off” someone who may have had too much to drink. Alcohol and misconduct can be a nasty duo, and you have an obligation to ensure that your employees continue to act responsibly, even when off duty.

3. Ensure adequate security at the venue

Security is another important consideration for Christmas parties. If the venue offers its own, the cheapest and most efficient option is to coordinate with their security to ensure the Christmas party runs smoothly. If the venue has no security, or what they have is insufficient for the size of your group, you may need to make additional arrangements. It also can’t hurt to inquire about the venue’s surveillance capabilities and policies. Hopefully, your party won’t require either. Though, when something goes astray, surveillance and security footage may be crucial for gathering evidence about an event. Whether it’s employee misconduct or otherwise.

4. Consider medical assistance

At the party, there needs to be quick access to medical assistance in case of an accident or emergency. This may include locating the nearest hospital or having someone in attendance who knows CPR. If you are planning your Christmas party in a remote location or on a boat, it is essential to have access to a qualified first aider, and a way to get injured/ill employees to more comprehensive help. You never know what could happen, and you don’t want to be responsible for your employees not receiving immediate medical attention.

5. Organise transportation 

When planning the Christmas party, it is important to ensure that transportation is organised by the company. This may be as simple as directing employees to the nearest cab rank or train station, or it may require a shuttle or taxi chits. However you decide to proceed, you should take all reasonable steps to ensure employees get all the way home safely. The last thing you want is for your employees to pick up their car at the office and drive home under the influence.

6. Remind employees of your drug and alcohol policy

It is a good idea to send around a copy of your company’s Drug and Alcohol Policy a week or two before the party to remind them of their obligations. After all, staff are still representing the company at the Christmas party, especially if clients have been invited. With the HRA Cloud, you can send our ‘Alcohol and Other Drugs’ and ‘Business and Social Functions’ policies to staff through our Self-Service module. This way you can track which employees have read and acknowledged the policy. If any incident arises, you have up-to-date and immediate access to the policy records to prove that the employee was aware of their obligations.

Want more tips to ensure your end of year Christmas function goes smoothly? Keep an eye out for our Silly Season Guide to Managing your End of Year Function. You can sign up for our HR updates to get this delivered straight to your inbox!

HR Assured takes care of the administrative and difficult parts of HR, so you can focus on the fun stuff (like Christmas parties!) without the headache! Contact us  to find out more about how we can help