Under the new workplace health and safety laws employers who do not do enough to stop problems occurring at all work functions risk fines of up to $3 million for the most serious incidents.
According to a Financial Review report, lawyers have warned that both employers and senior executives should no longer leave the human resources departments to manage Christmas party risks.
This is due to the potentially larger fines they can be liable for under the new WHS laws already in operation or to be introduced in January 2013.
Under these laws if things get out of control at a work function like a Christmas party senior managers as well as directors can be potentially found at fault, the lawyer stated that this may even be the case in Victoria, one of two states that have not yet signed on for the changes
Tips for managing the Christmas function include:
1. Set and example: Senior managers can lead by example
2. Alcohol controls: If things start getting out of as people become drunk somebody needs to ensure that the flow is slowed or turned off
3. Entertainment: The function’s entertainment needs to be appropriate and not liable to cause offence to anyone
4. Kris Kringle gifts: Joke gifts can cause offence, release some guidelines if your workplace has a yearly Kris Kringle
5. Plan: Managers should have policies and procedures already in place and communicated to staff to reduce the risk of harassment and bullying. It is advisable to not just assume that HR will take care of it
6. Ensure workers can get home safely: Any venue that is used for work functions should always have safe access for transport for people to travel home afterwards