Avoid an End of Year Party Employment Hangover: Guide For Employers

November 27th, 2023 - Barbara Buckett

An end of year party can be a wonderful way to reward your employees for their hard work and celebrate their achievements. However, it also requires some careful planning and preparation to make sure it is a safe and enjoyable event for everyone.

As an employer, you have a legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of your employees at work, and this includes work-related events, regardless of where they take place. This means you have to identify and reduce any potential risks, taking appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants.

Some of the risks you should be aware of are:

  • ​Employees engaging in inappropriate or unwanted behaviour, such as sexual harassment, offensive comments, or violence.

  • Employees getting too drunk and putting themselves or others in danger.

  • Employees driving while intoxicated and risking their own and others' lives.

Here are some tips to help you plan a safe and fun end of year party for your staff: 

Set clear expectations before the event. Let your employees know that even though it is a festive occasion, they are still expected to behave professionally and responsibly. You should also remind them of your policies and codes of conduct, and discourage them from attending any 'after parties'.

Encourage your employees to plan ahead how they will get home safely. Provide them with information about public transport, taxi services, or ride-sharing apps. You can also offer to reimburse them for their travel expenses or arrange a shuttle service.

Limit the amount of free alcohol available at the party. Providing unlimited drinks can encourage excessive drinking and lead to problems. You should offer a variety of low-alcohol or non-alcoholic drinks, as well as plenty of water and soft drinks.

Always serve food along with alcohol. Food can help slow down the absorption of alcohol and prevent people from getting too drunk. You should provide enough food for everyone, and cater for different dietary needs and preferences.

Employers should designate some managers to oversee work-related social events and provide them with clear instructions on how to handle employees who are drunk or misbehaving. The supervisors should remain sober and act as role models.

Employers should also make it clear that they are not responsible for any unofficial gatherings or activities that take place after the official event is over. If employees choose to go to other places or continue the party, they do so at their own risk.

Despite careful planning and precautions, things can still go wrong, and employers may face misconduct issues arising from work-related social events. Employers need to know their rights and obligations when dealing with such situations.

If you need legal advice or assistance with a misconduct issue following your work-related social event, contact BuckettLaw. Our expert lawyers can help you deal with your employment ‘hangover’. 

Some ideas for popular non-alcoholic drinks available can be found online:

Note: BuckettLaw takes no responsibility for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of our articles. Any views expressed or comments made in an article are the writers option only. The content in our articles does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal or expert advice you should obtain specific advice about your case or matter from a professional. For legal advice based on your individual situation please contact us to speak with one of our expert lawyers.

Enjoy a complimentary 15-minute phone call as a first-time offer.

Barbara Buckett

Barbara Buckett is a highly experienced senior employment lawyer with over 35 years of practice in New Zealand. She provides expert advice on all areas of employment law and has a proven track record of delivering excellent results for clients. Barbara has extensive experience in resolving workplace issues and is an experienced litigator. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling, working out, and fine wine and dining with friends.

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