As we plan for our office or workplace Christmas parties it is worth pausing to consider that this event which should be fun for all and a celebration of the year’s work together is also an event that attaches certain risks to staff. Those risks in turn give rise to risk and exposure to the organisation.

The main risk factor of course is the consumption of alcohol. Irresponsible consumption can contribute to an array of undesirable things such as anger and violence, personal injury and sexual harassment or assault. The employer or organisation is likely be liable for any loss, damage or injury caused or suffered by any of your revellers if there has been a failure to put reasonable precautions in place.

The Christmas party is a work event so the organisation is and must be responsible. Here are a few tips to help keep the occasion enjoyable for everyone:

  1. Have clear start and end times for the party.
  2. Avoid self service of alcohol. Wait-staff or designated personnel for the responsible service of alcohol is preferable.
  3. Wait-staff must be clearly authorised to refuse service to anyone who is getting out of control.
  4. Steps should be taken to ensure that anyone who is clearly and well out of control is conveyed safely to their home – before the end of the party if necessary.
  5. Beware the after-party and especially the attendance of any senior personnel of the organisation whose presence may give the impression (and possibly even the effect) that it is a continuation of the official work Christmas party. The above mentioned precautions are likely to have been relaxed or removed altogether and the risks to all are increased.
  6. Finally, ask everyone to look after each other!