Work functions and WHS

Work functions such as Christmas parties are a great way to celebrate and thank your staff for their hard work during the year. However it's important to remember that while your staff may be 'off the clock', you're likely to still be responsible for their health and safety.

How to have a safe work function

Here are some suggestions to help your workplace celebrate safely:

  • Before organising an event, work function or party, ensure that your internal policies and procedures are up to date, including those related to acceptable behaviour and bullying and harassment in the workplace.
  • Send a friendly email to staff before the party reminding them that while the party is a time to relax, it's still a work function. The email should also outline any rules, including those about sexual harassment, and remind staff to be careful if consuming alcohol.
  • If alcohol is being served at the party, make sure it's served legally and responsibly and that there's also enough food and non-alcoholic drinks available and 
  • Help make arrangements for your staff to get home safely after the event. You could organise a bus, pre-order some taxis, or arrange for some designated drivers.

Work events and Fringe Tax Benefits (FTB)

It's also important to consider any tax implications in hosting a work event. Some Christmas parties for example can attract a fringe benefits tax (FBT), so things to consider include:

  • the benefits of hosting the party at your business premises
  • the value of any gifts you choose to give to staff
  • whether to invite clients and other associates and
  • the cost of catering per person.

Generally, you won't pay FBT if you host the Christmas party on your business premises, or keep the cost of the party to below $300 per person.

To find out if your party or function will attract FBT, visit the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

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