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The latest HR, IR and Recruitment updates and education from your industry experts.

How-To-Guide: Avoiding Christmas Party Pitfalls

Acceptable behaviour, business expectations and our top tips.

Believe it or not, it’s that time of year again. Christmas decorations are in the shops, the weather is heating up and that out-of-office is just out of reach. With all this end of year excitement comes a highly anticipated event – the annual work Christmas party. It’s a time to

get together, laugh, reflect, and enjoy the clinking of glasses with the colleagues you’ve worked so hard with all year! Although as much as it’s a memorable night, it can just as easily go south without the correct preparation, supervision, and awareness of appropriate behaviour.

We’ve put together a how-to guide with our recommendations for before, during and after your function, which you can use as a reference point to ensure your celebrations are fun, safe, and aligned with your business values.


To make sure you’re effectively managing risk, the party needs to be well-organised, and the proceedings need to be clearly communicated to the team in advance! We recommend you…

  • Communicate start and finish times. You’ll have a few party animals that want to kick on (every office does), so being super clear about the finish time is important to reduce your risk should anything unsavoury occur when the official party ends, but the drinks continue flowing.

  • Plan food and drinks wisely. When it comes to planning, making sure everyone is well-fed if they’re drinking alcohol and you have plenty of water and non-alcoholic drinks options available is a must! If your parties have got a little too rowdy in the past, consider managing alcohol consumption through a ticket system where everyone is limited to a certain number of drinks. This also helps to address the ‘first in, best dressed’ attitude that can come with having a bar tab.

  • Organise transport. It may be worthwhile considering options for transport (such as offering to reimburse Ubers or organising a minibus) to ensure everyone gets home safely. If this is not financially viable then encourage your team to pre-plan safe transportation home.

  • Distribute workplace policies. We recommend setting expectations early by redistributing your policies related to drug and alcohol, code of conduct, harassment, bullying and social media. If you don’t have policies or they’re in need of a little TLC, we recommend outlining your expectations in an email to your team to make sure everyone is on the same page, (or give us a call and we can whip some up for you).


Whether you’re a business owner, leader or team member, there’s a few key things we recommend you do to ensure you don’t wake up in the morning with that feeling of regret in the pit of your stomach.

  • Curb your enthusiasm. As a senior team member, you still need to be ‘on duty’ at the party (on the down low of course) and address any issues that may arise. Yes, it’s important for everyone to enjoy themselves, but keeping an eye on your team will certainly go a long way in making sure everyone is feeling safe and respected.

  • Watch the alcohol consumption. We know it sounds like an obvious tip, but the line between having a fun time (responsibly) and things getting out of hand, can be a tricky one to balance. It’s easy for people to drink fast when they are excited, so watch how much people are drinking and encourage those over enthusiastic ones to opt for a little soda water in their wine or alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

  • Dress appropriately. This is no time to take “apple bottom jeans and boots with the fur” literally, so keep dress code and the venue in mind when choosing what to wear. You need to remember it’s still a work function and while you may have the opportunity to dress a little snazzier than you usually would in the office, it still needs to be appropriate for the occasion.

  • Keep your hands to yourself. Avoid any reenactments of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. If it’s not deemed appropriate in the workplace, it's more than likely not appropriate at the Christmas party. Also be conscious of gossiping about colleagues as this may come back to bite you. As a leader you want to lead with a positive example, not be the one people are talking about on Monday.

  • Be very cautious about what you post on social media. Posting a video with the work crew always seems like a good idea after a few glasses of bubbly, but your perception may be just as wonky as your attempt at the sprinkler on the dancefloor. The reputation of your workplace is much more important than the number of views on your Instagram story, so if you’re going to post something, we suggest waiting until the next day.


It’s 11pm, the DJ has just finished playing the last 80/90s singalong (Daryl Braithwaite – Horses, of course) and it’s been announced that the Christmas party is officially over. The most important thing for employers to do is ensure everyone gets home safely.

Many people may decide to party on, but as mentioned earlier it’s important they understand the work function is over and anything they choose to do from here on out is entirely on them. In some cases, an employer has been liable for things that have occurred after the party ended so, if you spot any kind of risks address them before you leave.

Remember, setting a few expectations before the party doesn’t have to dampen the fun! The aim is to make sure everyone can come back to work on Monday without having to do the dreaded walk of shame, and you don’t end up welcoming the festive season with a misconduct investigation instead of a holiday!

If you need a little support with your policies or communication around expectations at the Christmas party, please reach out.


IR Updates

Updates to New Zealand Individual Employment Agreements

There have been some recent changes/inclusions to contract conditions for individual employment agreements in New Zealand and it is now a requirement for New Zealand agreements to include:

  • A clear and plain explanation of how to get help to resolve employment relationship problems including a statement:

- that most personal grievances must be raised within 90 days,

- that sexual harassment personal grievances must be raised within 12 months

  • An employment protection provision that applies if the employer’s business is sold or transferred, or if the employee’s work is contracted out.

We recommend you review your current agreements to ensure they have these inclusions, and if you have any questions to contact your HR Consultant, or email us at

And if you missed our last monthly newsletter, here’s a reminder of what you need to do for the Christmas closure period:

  1. Check your obligations. Review your policies and contracts to ensure they are aligned with your internal processes. Our Aussie clients will also need to make sure they are familiar with the recent legislation changes (summary below), and any specific Award obligations.

  2. Communicate early. Provide specific dates of any closures, and/or communicate if there are any specific roles that will be required to work. This will allow your team to plan for the time off.

  3. Confirm leave requirements. Ask the team to submit leave applications now to cover any leave they will be taking. If an employee does not have enough paid leave to cover the closure, agree with them an alternative (e.g., unpaid leave, or leave in advance).

Reminder! For our Australian clients, the legislation changes announced in May mean you need to provide at least 28 days’ notice of the business closure (email is fine). In the event an employee does not have enough annual leave, you can no longer direct them to take unpaid leave, but you can mutually agree to this. Alternatively, you can offer annual leave in advance if the Award permits and you agree.

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