How to prevent and manage incidents during the silly season (in a covid world)

The silly season is upon us. And it’s the second silly season since the covid-19 pandemic started. The difference, this year, is that we’ve had a rollout of vaccines.

Some employees have been double jabbed. Others haven’t. And not all places of employment have a vaccine mandate. This, along with other considerations, comes into play when planning staff Christmas functions.

So let’s explore this further.

Why should you even be thinking about this?

All sorts of things can go wrong at staff Christmas functions. They’re notorious for causing HR hangovers. And what employer wants that hassle? Especially at the end of what’s been a difficult year.

Added to that are current covid restrictions which frequently change in some States. It’s difficult to keep up.

Many employers have very good procedures in place for staff celebrations. But you may need to remind staff of them or review them to see if they need updating.

So, what should you consider?

There are several things to think about when planning staff Christmas celebrations. And they’re not all covid-related.

Before the party

When you’re considering where to hold staff celebrations, think about travel. Is it close to public transport? Is it close to your workplace? You need to ensure that it’s a venue that staff can easily get to from work and get home without too much hassle.

With covid still at the forefront of our minds, consider an outdoor setting. This may make physical distancing easier.


Is your chosen venue licensed to serve alcohol? The responsible service of alcohol is definitely important at staff celebrations.

Also, are you paying for staff’s alcoholic drinks? If so, consider having a limit so that staff don’t get too drunk as this may give rise to all sorts of issues

Start & finish times

Be very clear on when the Christmas party starts and finishes. Not only does this avoid confusion, but it also means staff can travel home safely. Be mindful of when public transport stops for the night.

Staff behaviour

People can forget they’re at a work function, especially when alcohol is available! Send an email before the party reminded staff of what’s considered appropriate behaviour.

Also, you need to make it clear that if staff are feeling unwell, they should not attend. This is particularly so if they’re experiencing covid-related symptoms.

Covid-related considerations

Different States have different restrictions in place. Some States are restricting what the unvaccinated can and can’t do. Other States are being less restrictive.

So, stay aware of current restrictions as they do change. If you have a mixture of vaccinated and unvaccinated staff, this may affect what you can do. This is particularly so if your business hasn’t mandated the vaccine for staff.

A good option could be taking advantage of technology. Whilst many of us have Zoom fatigue, it may still be the best option. This is particularly so if:

(a) Covid restrictions in your State prevent unvaccinated from entering venues, and/or

(b) You have a lot of staff.

This may avoid unvaccinated staff feeling alienated.

At the party

Service of alcohol

Make sure staff don’t overindulge on alcohol. You can do this by placing a limit on how much alcohol gets serviced. Or have a couple of your managers stay sober to keep an eye on how much staff are drinking.

Finish time

Ensure that you keep to the end time you announced to staff before the party. This will help ensure people leave at an appropriate time and are able to get home in one piece!


Make sure staff follow current covid rules. This may include things like checking in, wearing masks and social distancing.

After the party

Sometimes Christmas parties end up with complaints and conduct issues. It’s prudent to take care of such issues promptly. And with discretion!

It can also be a good idea to keep an eye on staff’s social media profiles. This can ensure that staff don’t post anything inappropriate about the Christmas party.


2021 has been a rough year on many. So having an end-of-year celebration can be good for morale. But it’s also important to ensure staff celebrations go as smoothly as possible. And this may need some careful planning.

Need help creating policies for staff functions? Get in touch with us for help, by email or ring (02) 8320 9320. We service businesses Australia-wide.

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