Work Function Revelry – a joyous time but challenging for employers

Work Function Revelry – a joyous time but challenging for employers.png

Work Function Revelry – a joyous time but challenging for employers

While the End of Year period is often seen as a time of joy and happiness, it is important that employers have sufficient checks and balances in place to ensure that revelry does not lead to workplace misbehaviour or, even worse, litigation. This is particularly pertinent in 2021 as Australians emerge from the ‘new normals’ following the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is very common for employers both in the public and private sectors to host gatherings for employees to celebrate. They can provide an important morale boost to employees as well as provide an opportunity to recognise and reward staff for their efforts.

However, whether celebrations are held at work or an external venue, certain key issues need to be carefully considered before the staging of any event.

These include:

  • Education: prior to the event, hold briefing sessions to remind employees about expected behaviour standards, ensure they understand the potential link between ‘work’ and ‘play’ in these circumstances, acceptable alcohol consumption, etc. Ensure that staff do not attend the event in work uniforms or clothes that could identify them as members of staff.

  • Food and drink: Food should always be provided, particularly if alcohol is being served.

  • Alcohol consumption: Regulate the amount of alcohol staff can consume through time limits, issuing vouchers, offer low alcohol and soft drink options. Several senior managers should be nominated to be responsible and observe behaviours. Prior to the event, encourage staff to make alternate transport arrangements or consider organising taxi’s or Ubers to transport people.

  • Post-event partying: Do not arrange or pay for alcohol to be provided at alternate venues after the event has finished, as it may extend the employer’s liability if an incident or injury occurs.

  • Lead by example: Ensure that senior management behave appropriately and respectfully at the event to set the standards for others.

  • Inappropriate behaviour: Management must ensure that any inappropriate behaviour is immediately addressed with staff cautioned at the time about the consequences of continuing such behaviour.

  • Social media: Ensure staff are aware that they are not to post any tasteless or inappropriate pictures from the event. Although it may seem extreme, consider hiring a photographer to take pictures and restrict staff from using their own mobile phones to capture the event.

In staging any event in 2021 and for the foreseeable future, employers need to ensure compliance with social distancing and limits on crowd numbers as mandated in various Australian states and regions.

It should also be noted that other events could be linked to the employer, including social club functions, and these also need to be reviewed and monitored where possible.

For queries about Work Functions or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178, 1300 WAL LAW or via email to

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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