Employers need to be aware of their obligations under the Health and Safety at Work Act when providing alcohol at work functions. Fundamentally, this involves taking all practicable steps to manage and minimise alcohol-related risks and hazards.

To assist employers with the practical side of compliance, the government has a free publication titled Serving Alcohol Safely at Workplace Events. You can download it at www.alcohol.org.nz. The publication outlines best practices for employers acting as ‘good hosts’, provides useful tips and uses the acronym SAFELY to demonstrate the key points. Diprose Miller has summed up the key messages for employers:

S – Follow the law around Serving alcohol
A – Provide Alternatives to alcohol
F – Offer plenty of Food
E – Prevent Excess consumption and intoxication
L – Organise Lifts to help people get home safe
Y – Look after Young people, who may not be experienced drinkers

Of course, employees have a responsibility to behave appropriately, but employers would be wise to follow the guidelines provided.