The Office Party

Keep celebrations under control.

Parties are work functions, even if held away from the office and outside normal working hours. Not only can employees be liable for accidents, injuries, harassment and a variety of other problems, employers could also be held vicariously liable. It is therefore important to remind all staff that they continue to be governed by your code of conduct at the party, just as they would at the workplace.

If you intend to supply alcohol or allow its consumption, you may be legally responsible for the welfare of your employees if they suffer from drinking related disasters, even if they occur outside the party itself. Limit how much alcohol you supply. Assign managerial level staff to keep an eye on people drinking. They should not drink. Arrange transportation for your employees to get home from the party safely.

Keep in mind your employees may normally be expected to operate equipment the next day. From an occupational health and safety perspective, you will need to decide whether to give them the day off or change their duties.

Avoid discussing employment matters like salary, promotion or the like. Binding agreements could be created. This could be particularly frustrating if your manager does not recall the conversation.

As a final note, does your liability insurance cover office parties, particularly when alcohol is available?