Work Christmas functions provide employers and employees with the opportunity to reflect on the highs (and lows!) of the working year and are a great way to reward staff for their efforts and enthusiasm.
However, the ‘silly season’ can often be a cause of headaches for employers as employees can be prone to engaging in inappropriate conduct which may necessitate taking disciplinary action and/or give rise to an assortment of legal claims.
Employer’s Duty of Care
Employers need to remember that Christmas parties are work functions (even if held away from the workplace) meaning they owe a duty of care to their employees during these events.
What Does the Duty of Care Require?
This duty requires employers to take all reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of employees including by:
- if alcohol is available, limiting employees’ consumption of alcohol and ensuring that sufficient food is available to mitigate the effects of the alcohol
- ensuring illicit drugs are not consumed during the event