Functioning properly

18 August, 2017

Rewarding your staff with a work function is a great way to ensure workers feel appreciated and helps with continued productivity, engagement and team building.

But unless properly planned and thought-out, a work function can quickly lead to allegations of sexual harassment and assault, together with workers’ compensation claims, particularly where alcohol is involved.

The definition of “workplace” extends to work functions organised, funded or hosted by the employer. This can include employee social gatherings that are arranged by a supervisor or manager, even when the event is not formally organised by the employer and is not held at the actual workplace.

As such, the top 10 considerations an employer should contemplate to help mitigate risk and assist in meeting duty of care obligations are:

  1. Review or establish workplace policies to ensure they provide for a code of conduct and behaviour
  2. Hold a meeting and remind staff that workplace policies and procedures apply at work functions and ensure that staff have a clear understanding of what is expected by these policies and procedures
  3. Inspect the venue for any safety concerns and make the necessary provisions accordingly
  4. Set clear start and end times for the function, and toward the end of the event consider limiting alcohol supply
  5. Ensure a manager or supervisor has been appointed to oversee the function and monitor employee behaviour
  6. Ensure the responsible service of alcohol
  7. Ensure enough food and non-alcoholic beverages are available
  8. Where possible, organise the function close to public transport and advise employees to make alternative travel arrangements home
  9. If you are moving venues during the function, conduct regular head counts to ensure nobody is left behind
  10. Promptly investigate any concerns that do arise.


This article first appeared in CCI’s special investigation into sex in the workplace. To download the complete investigation, visit here.