I recently asked an employment lawyer for their top tips on handling the “office holiday party”. Here are 4 tips from employment lawyer Sarah Vokey of Robinson Heeney LLP in Toronto, ON.
It’s that time of year again – decorations, snow, wishes of joy, gifts, baked treats, and of course, the office holiday party. While the office holiday party is a great opportunity to connect with co-workers and celebrate the year, an employee’s conduct during the event can have ramifications that extend long after the event is finished. As employment lawyers, we are often called upon in our practice to assist with dealing with holiday party behaviour and, based on our experience, have compiled the following tips for employees attending such events:
- Do not forget that the office holiday party, even if held outside the office or outside of regular working hours, constitutes the workplace. This means that all company policies and expectations of conduct in the office also apply to the office party. Conduct that violates company policies that occurs at the holiday party can be, and often is, subject to investigation and disciplinary measures.
- Limit alcohol consumption. Case law involving holiday parties where excessive alcohol has been consumed is full of situations involving poor judgment such as harassment, inappropriate comments, and physical violence. Not only do these situations have the ability to negatively impact an employee’s reputation but they can also result in serious disciplinary measures up to and including termination of employment.
- If alcohol will be consumed, ensure that safe transportation from the party is arranged in advance. For example, obtain the number of a taxi service or inquire into the company’s policy on paying for transportation home from the party.
- Unless otherwise advised, employees are expected to show up for work the day after the holiday party.
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