Group of people touching wine glasses.

The End of Year Workplace Celebration - Dos and Don’ts for Employees

December 4th, 2023 - Barbara Buckett

The End of Year party is a great opportunity to celebrate with your colleagues but remember that it is an extension of the workplace, and you are expected to conduct yourself accordingly.

Behaving inappropriately is not acceptable in any work setting, including the festive one.

Employers have a duty of care for their employees at a Christmas party and can be held liable for injuries (including mental harm and anguish from inappropriate jokes) and actions of its employees.

End of year dos need to be healthy and safe for everyone. All those attending have a responsibility to ensure no-one is harmed.

Employers can take disciplinary measures following misconduct by employees at a work event so mind your P’s and Q’s when interacting with your colleagues at the function. Be familiar with workplace policies for such events. Behave professionally. 

Don’t do anything that you would regret or that could damage your reputation at work. Remember it’s a work function not a gathering of friends so different standards is in place.

Be respectful and mindful of what may offend or adversely impact on another. Jokes are fine but keep them within limits (not discriminatory or making fun at the expense of others). Be mindful of how others might react. Smut is out. Coarseness frowned upon. Toilet humour best left for friends and ridicule for, well, politicians.

Don’t do something that you will regret and be splashed over the front page of the paper or circulated on social media. Remember that bringing the employer into disrepute may be a disciplinary matter.

If you choose to drink alcohol, do so sensibly and in moderation work functions are not the place to overindulge or get out of it. More water perhaps than wine.

Make sure you eat enough food and drink enough water to avoid getting too intoxicated. You don’t want to be known for being ‘that person’ who spoilt it for the rest of the team.

Avoid romantic encounters with your co-workers. 

It is not wise to have a ‘fling ‘with a colleague at the office party as it could create awkwardness or complication in the workplace, and you may find yourself the subject of workplace gossip and embarrassment.

In the worst-case scenario, you may face a sexual harassment claim with far more serious consequences than the embarrassment.


DO NOT drive if you drink– make sure you plan beforehand how you will get home safely. Use public transport, taxi services, or ride-sharing services. Your work may even cover travel costs.


If you do find yourself facing an employment problem following your End of Year party, our team is here to help and provide legal advice.

Remember, it’s a time to celebrate and have fun, but it’s also important to maintain a level of professionalism and respect for your colleagues. Enjoy the party! 🎉


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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