Holiday Office Parties – Do’s & Don’ts!

Written by on December 13, 2022 in Employment Law Blog, Employment Law Issues
Holiday Office Parties

Q.  Can an Employee get fired for something done after hours?

Definitely. Your day-to-day rules also apply at Holiday Office parties. With social media, everyone’s conduct is being monitored. It’s so easy to get caught. If you mess up you could be sent home and later terminated. The termination could be for cause if the misconduct is serious. A cause termination = $0 for notice.

Q.  Can an Employee get fired for something done outside of your workplace?

It all depends on what is done, the nature of your company, your position in the company and any policies or employment agreements with respect to this.

Q.  Can an Employee get fired for being ill and attending the party?

If you knew you were ill, didn’t wear a mask, and especially if your illness impacted your co-workers, then yes you could get fired. Employers should have a policy for attending work or workplace functions while ill.

Q.  Can an Employer be held responsible if a party gets too wild?

Absolutely. The Employer is a host and also responsible for the actions of their workers. If there is sexual harassment or sexual assault, theft, damage to property, or damage to person, that Employer is also responsible and could be sued.

Q.  What steps should an Employer take to make sure their party goes well?

Best Advice

Ensure safety and minimize liability by maximizing professionality and respect for all! Here are some practical suggestions:

HEALTH SAFETY – Employers should select a venue that has sufficient space with plenty of ventilation. Also, wash hands regularly. Be cautious speaking to anyone who appears ill.

BOOZE – Remember, no one should be impaired. Consider no alcohol, or limiting alcohol to 1 or 2 drinks by providing drink tickets.  Serve interesting low or non-alcoholic beverages – Cider, Kombucha, Kvass, Coconut water, herb teas, hot chocolate, etc.. Serve lots of great smelling food! (Keep in mind food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, and nuts so that all your employees can eat.) Encourage employees to arrive sober and stay sober. No outside beverages should be brought in the party.

DRUGS – Just because cannabis was legalized, that’s not an excuse for impairment at your party. There should be zero tolerance for impairment. Not ingesting cannabis either. And, no smoking of cigarettes or cigars. Your workers should be reminded that your Cannabis & Smoking Policy continues to apply at your office party.

NAMING IT – As not everyone celebrates Christmas, name your party something that does not raise a barrier to attendance. Ask your workers. Make sure you call your party a name that all can relate to. Try not to leave anyone out.

TIMING – Why limit your party to December when your employees are the busiest? Consider having it year-round, perhaps as part of Team Building sessions or an Office Retreat. Consider early spring or late fall. How about in January at the icewine harvest in Niagara-on-the-Lake? Or in November at the Royal Winter Fair? Or at the Flato Markham Theatre?

SOCIAL MEDIA – Do you want the world to see your party, especially if someone gets out of line or ill? Restrict picture taking or hire a photographer or designate only one person to take photos. Make sure you approve the photos going on social media and archive the remainder.

SIZE – Keep your party’s size manageable as this will help you to discreetly monitor workers upon arrival, during the party, and upon departure. Be watchful for alcohol being brought into your party or workers who step out for additional alcohol.

GOING HOME – You want your workers going home, by themselves, and straight home. Arrange for Lift, Uber or Taxi transportation and insist on 1 car for each person. No snuggling up with co-workers!

Employers Remember

  • You may be on the hook for employee misconduct!!         

Employees Remember

  • Don’t do anything you will regret in the morning!!

Our Message to All

  • Enjoy your holiday office party whenever & however it may be!!

How Minken Employment Lawyers Can Help

At Minken Employment Lawyers, we can help you with planning your Holiday Office Party, reviewing, updating or drafting your Office Policies and Employment Agreements to protect your legal interests. Contact us today to speak to a member of our team: 905-477-7011 | Toll-Free: 1-866-477-7011 | contact@minken.com.

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Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

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