EMPLOYERS could be stung with unexpected WorkCover costs if a staff member is injured at this year’s office Christmas party, according to a Brisbane lawyer.
Bennett and Philp director Mark O’Connor has reminded employers that workplace laws still apply during functions, even when hosted outside of the office.
“At this time of the year as businesses prepare for their annual Christmas function it’s important to remember that the rules for being a responsible host also apply to employers who organise or pay for an office Christmas party,” O’Connor says.
“If an employee drinks too much during a work function and is injured as a consequence, the employer could face some unexpected costs.
“If a drunk employee is injured at an office Christmas party, or even after they have left it, a potential compensation claim by the worker could mean the employer being hit with extra WorkCover premiums, as well as being responsible for the employee’s medical costs.”
O’Connor says although a Christmas party can build team morale, it’s no excuse to overlook safety issues – especially when alcohol is involved.
“Employers should consider careful planning prior to holding the party in order to avoid some potentially messy situations later.”
He recommends employers lay some ground rules with staff, consider controlling alcohol consumption and establishing a formal end time for the party.
That will ensure employees accept legal responsibility for their own safety if they choose to “party on” at a club, he says.
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