Hosting a holiday party is a great way to thank your employees
for their hard work and to celebrate your company's successes
in the last year. However, if a holiday party gets out of
control or is not reflective of your workforce's
ethnic/cultural diversity it can create unforeseen liabilities,
particularly where alcohol is involved. As a "best
practice", the following suggestions will assist your
organization in planning and holding a safe and inclusive holiday
Hold an alcohol-free event. This is the lowest-risk option for
If you decide to provide alcohol at the event, speak to
employees before the event about the risks of over-drinking.
Employees should also be reminded that this is a workplace
function and they are expected to behave in a way that is not
harassing, discriminatory, intimidating or otherwise
Holding a morning (brunch) event rather than an evening event
where alcohol is served may reduce the consumption of alcohol.
Do not provide free and open access to alcohol.
Provide non-alcoholic drinks as an option.
Avoid serving alcohol if your event includes physical
activities, or serve the alcohol after the physical event is
Do not serve alcoholic beverages to under-aged employees or
employees who are already visibly intoxicated.
Have food available throughout the party, and accommodate
Provide alternative transportation for employees (i.e. taxi
chits). Encourage employees before the event to leave their
vehicles at home and take advantage of the alternative
transportation you are providing to get to and from the event.
Arrange for a nearby hotel to have rooms available for
employees who are unable to get home.
Stop serving alcoholic beverages at least an hour before the
party is over.
Be respectful of the different cultural and belief systems
among your employees when planning your event.Make sure the date of
your event, your menu and activities reflect your workforce's
religious and ethnic diversity.
Where your workforce is culturally diverse, consider creating a
holiday planning committee of representative employees to plan your
event, and plan your event around the many religious holidays being
celebrated around this time.
Consider inviting your employees' family to accommodate
those who may be unable to leave young children at home.
Allow employees to opt out of your holiday event without a
consequence or negative connotation.
Make sure the venue is accessible to those attending your
Consider creating an electronic-free event, where use of cell
phones and other mobile/recording devices are limited.This will
help to ensure that your event and your employees don't end up
on social media.
As employers start to plan their annual holiday events, now is
the time to keep these tips top of mind in order to reduce the
likelihood of human rights complaints, harassment allegations or
claims for social host negligence if an employee ends up being
seriously injured after leaving your event. A
well-planned, inclusive holiday event will not only foster a
positive climate in your workplace but will go a long way in
reducing the chances of your company ending up with a costly piece
of litigation in its Xmas stocking!
Wishing you and your employees a safe and festive Holiday
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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