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Duncan Basheer Hannon

- 11 Dec 2014
  • Workplace Relations

Office christmas parties – what could possibly go wrong?

BY MILES KEMP
THE ADVERTISER

IT’S the time to let your hair down after another long year of deadlines, budgets and endless office meetings.

But law firm Duncan Basheer Hannon has issued a list of behaviour warnings for workers attending this year’s office Christmas party.

Titled “What could possibly go wrong?’” the guide has been issued by senior partner Patrick Boylen, who said changes to laws in South Australia this year had made the festive season knees-up more risky for workers.

“Not to be a killjoy, but it is a case of be alert, not alarmed,” Mr Boylen said.

“People can come up with a myriad of ways to push the boundaries at a Christmas function, especially when alcohol is involved.

“Many of these ways may be highly amusing but they could end up being no laughing matter.’’

One legal change that could affect inebriated people making their way home from the Christmas party, means councils will not pay for “trip and fall accidents’’ on footpaths, Mr Boylen said.

“You are no longer covered due to changes to the Civil Liability Act 1936. This legislation gives councils full immunity from these trip and fall accidents on footpaths arising from their omission or failure to properly maintain such footpaths,’’ he said.

Mr Boylen said when people understood the problems they could get in to they may want to modify their behaviour significantly.

For example, falling over and being injured because a worker is under the influence of alcohol is not covered unless death or serious and permanent injury results.

Also, a recent Federal Court decision means that even if the party was held outside work at a licensed venue, sexual harassment laws still applied.

“Having completed the research for this list, I am inclined to think it may be simply too dangerous to hold any form of Christmas party,” Mr Boylen said.

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