Bad Christmas Party behaviour can prove headache for bosses

Thursday 14 November, 2013

With the silly season upon us, there is one event every year it might pay no to be so silly at – a work Christmas party.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland says while Christmas parties are a great way to celebrate successes with staff, the combination of high spirits and alcohol can sometimes trigger inappropriate behaviour among staff.

CCIQ Employer Assistance Line senior adviser Susan Stubbings said it was critical for business owners and HR managers to be aware of an organisation’s obligations.

“Work Christmas parties are a great way to unwind and socialise with colleagues, but unfortunately some people tend to forget what is expected of them in terms of their behaviour,” Ms Stubbings said.

“Realistically, the behavioural expectations of staff at a Christmas party should be no different to those in the workplace whether there is alcohol involved or not.

"It is also important to remember that just because staff have left the organised event, the organisation may still be liable if an incident occurs following the event.

"Obviously bosses don't want to be the Christmas Grinch, but it is important to have measures in place to ensure you minimise the risk of an incident occurring."

Ms Stubbings said while staff were responsible for their own behaviour at Christmas parties, it was often the organisation and its managers who were left to resolve the issue.

“The organisation of the Christmas party – the timing, the venue and the amount of alcohol being served is something that must be given a lot of consideration by management,” she said.

“This is why it is so important for managers to be aware of the company’s obligations and for all staff to be aware of their expectations.

“A lot of these incidents are spur of the moment things often enhanced by the presence of alcohol but that does not take away from the severity of the potential consequences.”