It’s almost that time of year again when workplaces begin hosting their Christmas festivities. However, with the pandemic having made many changes to our working lives, the office Christmas party will not be an exception to these changes.
With restrictions still in place, it is important that the office Christmas party also complies with COVID safe practices. We are all aware of staying 1.5 metres apart and practicing hygiene safety, but there are many other things to consider as an employer. Currently in Queensland there are still restrictions on gatherings with a maximum of 50 people in a home or public space at any one time. If you wish to have your office Christmas party at a restaurant, or at a restricted business, then gatherings are set to one person for every two square metres.
It is important the businesses take this into consideration when planning a COVID safe Christmas party and that work health and safety measures are also being maintained. Some ideas that have been suggested are holding the office Christmas party outdoors or holding a virtual party, especially if most of your workplace has transitioned to working from home. This could be done through utilising any online platform such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams, as an example. It must be noted though that employers will still need to consider the safety of their employees should they hold a virtual Christmas party, as liability of employers and work health and safety still extends to work functions that take place online. Therefore, having risk assessments conducted and reminding employees of workplace policies and procedures will be important for a safe virtual Christmas party, among other steps that can be taken.
Some things will still remain the same as every year that Christmas parties are organised, such as monitoring the amount of alcohol that is being consumed, informing employees of the policies and procedures for your workplace before and maintaining them during the party, dealing with behavioral concerns immediately and setting clear start and end times for the function.
Finally, if this article has raised any questions or concerns for you or your organization please do not hesitate to contact either John Hayward or Kate Smith on (07) 4046 1124, for advice specific to your circumstances.
This article has been prepared with the assistance of Ruby Hedrick, a law graduate.