Tis’ the season to be jolly but in all the merriness in the lead up to Christmas, there is usually one thing that people either look forward to or dread all year – the workplace Christmas party. We all know there is usually someone that has a little too much cheer and gets a little rowdy, but is it considered part of your employment if something goes wrong?
The NSW Workers Compensation Commission have made various decisions confirming that injuries sustained at the workplace Christmas function can be covered by the legislation regardless of whether the party is actually held at your workplace. For example, a worker that injured herself by tripping on a pavement while walking to a Christmas party held at a public venue received workers compensation. But there are always exceptions to the rule and if “serious and willful misconduct” is the cause of the injury, for example, if you became intoxicated and started a physical altercation at the Christmas party that caused you injury, then the resulting injury may not be covered under the scheme.
There is also a provision in the NSW motor accidents legislation preventing claims being made for injuries sustained when you have been charged with or convicted of a serious driving offence. If you are planning on driving to the Christmas party, be aware of your alcohol consumption because if you were injured in a car accident on the way home and found to be over the limit, you may not be able to make a claim for any injuries sustained and/or any damages that may be claimed could be reduced for contributory negligence.
And finally, the Christmas party is not the place to tell your work colleague exactly what you think of them after you have had a few beers, more than likely your workplace code of conduct or bullying and harassment policy will still apply. Be particularly aware of any social media posts (embarrassing party photos included!) that could be considered defamatory to colleagues, your boss or the business itself because a subsequent lawsuit could make the post party hangover a whole lot worse!