I'm planning the office Christmas party. How can I make it a happy, healthy and safe one?

It’s always safer to book your office bash at a hotel, bar or restaurant, where facilities are designed for people having a good time. But if, like many workplaces, you do end up hosting a Christmas do in the office, there are a number of issues you need to be aware of.

Employers' responsibilities don’t end at 5.30pm. The law says that employers are responsible for staff behaviour ‘in the course of employment’, but this phrase has a wide meaning and would certainly include an office Christmas Party that an employer expects staff to attend, wherever it takes place.

Involving safety representatives and office first-aiders might be a useful part of planning. A trained union safety rep will be able to spot any potential problems and prevent them ruining the party.

Make sure you and other party organisers know what the late night security arrangements for your office are. Some offices may lock doors and stairwells at night, which could cut off an emergency escape. Check also that you know where the nearest fire extinguishers and alarms are. These should be provided in designated places in every workplace.

If you’re going to be serving alcohol at the party, make sure you’ve read your company's alcohol policy, if there is one. You may need to make sure you have the HR department's or your manager’s agreement if your policy prohibits alcohol at work.

Get colleagues to plan how they'll be getting home. Make sure people who normally drive to work go home by another means if they are planning to drink. Management can help by thinking ahead and ensuring people don't have to drink and drive – booking taxis or offering overnight stays can help.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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