find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (1-3 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Sydney NSW 2000
· Join a dynamic Firm · Excellent career growth opportunity
View details
In-house lawyer 1-4 PAE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Leading Brand · Report to a Dynamic Legal Counsel
View details
'Tis the season to get messy

'Tis the season to get messy

It's that time of year again when the warnings about how to best avoid becoming embroiled in salacious office Christmas party scandals begin to emerge.Workplace lawyers take to the podium to…

It's that time of year again when the warnings about how to best avoid becoming embroiled in salacious office Christmas party scandals begin to emerge.

Workplace lawyers take to the podium to remind employers not to provide their employees with too much booze, ensure their bullying and harassment policies are dusted off, and remember they are still responsible for the conduct of their employees even through they are not at the office.

Ah yes, employers are reminded they could be liable for the drunken vomits, the nudey runs, the sexual harassment and the misdemeanors ending in arrest.

Vive le office Christmas party!

With seasonal precision, this week saw Brisbane lawyer Chris Ng, of Bennett and Philp Lawyers, come out and say that employers must also realise they could be up for WorkCover costs if an employee is injured at the office Christmas party.

"The rules for being a responsible host also apply to employers who organise or pay for an office Christmas party," he said.

"If an employee drinks too much during a work function and is injured as a consequence, the employer could face some unexpected costs."

And, let's face it, which employees aren't likely to drink too much at the Christmas party?

"Alcohol can and often does change people's personalities and simmering workplace disputes can spill over into violence too," warned Ng.

"Employers should consider careful planning prior to holding the party in order to avoid some potentially messy situations later."


Folklaw thinks this is perhaps a timely moment to reflect on one of the more famous "messy situations" in recent times: the Telstra Christmas Party Disaster of 2007.

For those of you who missed it, here is the crux of it: Telstra throws Christmas party; several employees book hotel room in anticipation of big night; big night ensues; employees stumble back to hotel room; one female employee gets "cosy" (rather noisily) with several male employees while other female employees are trying to sleep; Telstra investigates; female employee is sacked; she goes to AIRC for unfair dismissal; she wins; Telstra appeals; Telstra wins.


So, as Ng points out, while it is easy for Christmas party warnings to be dismissed as pooping the party, so to speak, "the reality is that when people sober up, it is always possible that party excesses could become subject to legal action".

While it's great to have lawyers such as Ng on hand to offer legal advice about these matters, Folklaw particularly loves that fact that Telstra now has its very own webpage titled, "Handy tips to avoid a Christmas party disaster".

Written in 2010, the page offers hints such as, "businesses should take special precautions to care for employees during the Christmas party season or potentially face an expensive legal hangover" and "communicate with all staff that unacceptable behaviour could result in disciplinary action".

Wise words from a company no doubt eternally grateful the incident occurred pre-Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

'Tis the season to get messy
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Aug 22 2017
Professionals unite in support of marriage equality
The presidents of representative bodies for solicitors, barristers and doctors in NSW have come toge...
Aug 21 2017
Is your firm on the right track for gig economy gains?
Promoted by Crowd & Co. The way we do business, where we work, how we engage with workers, ev...
Scales of Justice, Victorian County Court, retiring judges
Aug 21 2017
Replacements named for retired Vic judges
Two new judicial officers have been appointed in the Victorian County Court, following the retire...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...