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The Rippling Effects of Holidays Parties

By Aline Ayoub

It’s that time of year where employers are planning to offer a holiday evening to their employees. You are challenged by the desire of offering a memorable party, while avoiding excesses and inappropriate behaviour. There are so many factors to consider! How to control alcohol consumption? Can recreational cannabis be banned? What to do in case of inappropriate behaviour.

Basic Rules

Clearly, there is a lot to consider. In fact, both employees and managers are on guard. In a previous article, we outlined the basic rules for employees. Let’s review the basic rules for employers.

It’s never okay. Educating your employees around sexual harassment and developing strong policies and procedures to deter it are the most effective means of minimizing its occurrence and impact. If you’ve done your homework, and have a sexual harassment policy, and if you trained your employees on how to report an incident, then you are poised to remind employees of the standards of behaviour expected during the evening. You will clearly advocate for what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. Advise your employees you will take action in case of inappropriate behaviour.

As a business owner and a responsible employer, it is important to ensure that your employees feel safe and supported at work as well as during events held outside of work.

Control Alcohol Consumption

Of course, you want to be perceived as a generous employer seeking to reward its employees for their hard work. You can still do that while limiting alcohol consumption. For example, instead of an “open bar”, limit the consumption at two drinks by providing two tickets to each employee. You can also stop serving alcohol at a certain time.

Forbid the Usage of Recreational Cannabis

Even though recreational cannabis is legal, you can still apply your policy during that evening and ban the usage of recreational cannabis during the evening. In fact, The Occupational Health and Safety Act requires that employers take all measures reasonable under the circumstances to ensure the safety of employees and the people they work with. The employees themselves have a responsibility to not put themselves or others at risk and to follow the safe work procedures of the workplace.”

If you’ve done your homework and have a clear drug and alcohol policy, you are also setting the right tone to your employees.

By the way, if you are the president or owner of the business and have a senior management team, you can ask your team (including yourself) to remain sober. That way, you will ensure to mitigate the risk of questionable behaviours or potential situations of sexual harassment.

Ensure the Safety of Your Employees Returning Home

It is of the utmost importance to offer your employees a safe return home. Think about having taxi vouchers or organized transportation. That way, you will avoid potential risks of drinking and driving.

Even though the holiday party is held outside your office and outside of normal working hours, it is an office event. Therefore, your workplace policies pertaining to drug or alcohol consumption, as well as well as those pertaining to harassment, continue to apply.

Furthermore, any related misconduct will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.

Better be safe than sorry.

Happy Holidays!