Avoiding the pitfalls of workplace functions

As many businesses and employees throughout NSW prepare to hold end of year celebrations, NSW Fair Trading and SafeWork NSW have come together to warn workers to be aware of their rights and responsibilities when booking and holding work functions.

NSW Fair Trading Commissioner, Rod Stowe, explained that in recent years unscrupulous party venue operators have taken money with no intention of ever delivering a service. 

“Every year, Fair Trading receives reports of dodgy operators taking deposits for work parties which are not delivered.  In one case, work mates were left on the dock waiting for a harbour cruise that never turned up.” said Mr Stowe.

“Never deposit cash directly into an operator’s bank account.  Instead, pay using a secure system like a credit card, which provides a ‘charge back’ facility if services aren’t provided.

“Always read the fine print before making an agreement and for bespoke events make sure the arrangements are confirmed in writing.”

SafeWork NSW Executive Director, Peter Dunphy reminded employers that health and safety responsibilities at work functions are the same as in the workplace.

“End of year celebrations are an excellent opportunity for workers to socialise with their colleagues and celebrate the achievements of the past year,” Mr Dunphy said.

“However, employers are reminded that they are still responsible for the health and safety of workers at these events.” 

Mr Dunphy said reminding staff about healthy, safe and respectful behaviours at work functions was an important step in ensuring the holiday season was celebrated safely.

“If alcohol is served, businesses should ensure plenty of food and non-alcoholic drinks are available,” said Mr Dunphy.

“It’s also very important to encourage workers to look out for their workmates.  If a worker is concerned that a colleague is under the influence, they should speak to their manager to keep them safe.”

Other safety measures include setting a clear start and finish time and various transport options available for workers to get home safely.

“These steps aren’t onerous, but they can go a long way to ensuring everyone can celebrate safely,” said Mr Dunphy. 

For further information on safely managing end of year celebrations, visit safework.nsw.gov.au and fairtrading.nsw.gov.au.