Managing alcohol in the workplace

Staff functions, celebrations or after work drinks in the workplace can be a great way to relax, enjoy each other's company and celebrate a job well done.

Here are some simple things you can do to make sure that if you choose to include alcohol at your next staff function, everyone has a great time, looks after each other and no one ends up drinking too much and making decisions they might later regret.

Remember, there are many ways to celebrate, relax and get to know each other without involving alcohol. Having a shared lunch, a Friday night BBQ, quiz night or something where staff can bring their partners and kids along are also excellent ways to acknowledge people and have a bit of fun.

As the employer you're the host

You should implement host responsibility provisions and ensure the function doesn't get out of hand. Set your expectations in advance. Say that you won't be impressed by drunken behaviour. Model good behaviour yourself.

Serve food

Get loads of substantial food rolling early on in the evening and make sure it's available throughout the function.

Make sure alcohol's not the only choice of drink

Serve more interesting non-alcoholic drinks than just orange juice. It's surprising how people will really enjoy something like a grapefruit and tonic with a chunk of mint in it for a change.

Don't serve people who are getting intoxicated

Brief your waiters if it's an in-house party. If your function is at a licensed premise, it shouldn't happen anyway because it's illegal to allow people to become intoxicated.

Plan activities

Plan some sort of activity so that people have something to do other than just drinking and eating. If you're having the function out of the office choose a location that includes an activity such as bowling, pool, dancing etc.

Limit the tab

One thing that can make a huge difference, without anyone really noticing - and certainly without anyone resenting it - is to set a time when the company stops paying the drinks bill. Don't tell people to stop drinking, just stop paying for it. 

Focus on families

Hold an event in a family environment, like the zoo, provide entertainment and make it alcohol free. Make the focus about the company families getting together and catching up.

Supplying alcohol to children and teenagers

Remember that it is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to be supplied with alcohol unless:

  • the person supplying the alcohol is their parent of legal guardian or
  • the person supplying alcohol has the express consent of the teenager’s parent or legal guardian.

If alcohol is supplied, it has to be in a responsible manner.  You could be fined up to $2,000 if you don’t follow the law.
 
Go to the law about supply to young people for information about what is meant by a legal guardian, express consent and supplying in a responsible manner.

Resources to help workplaces


Serving alcohol SAFELY at workplace events booklet spells out the key components of host responsibility at work social events for employers and gives advice for ensuring the safety of staff.

Download Serving alcohol SAFELY at workplace events  (PDF, 141KB)

 

 

Go to HPA’s workplace wellbeing website - wellplace.nz - for practical tools, ideas and resources to build wellbeing in your workplace