Tis the Season for Office Holiday Parties

Author: Charlene Cleary

The Legal Buzz
November and December 2019

Employees gathering at Holiday Parties

Photo by Eugene Zhyvchik on Unsplash

December is packed with office parties and long festive lunches. Many of these parties involve the consumption of alcohol. And while we want our employees to enjoy themselves, we also know that over consumption of alcohol can quickly lead to problems. As employers, we are obligated to make sure the workplace is safe; this extends to venues and gatherings occurring offsite and after hours. Here are some practical tips to consider:


  1. If you are going to offer alcohol at holiday parties, consider having a third-party server pour drinks – this may help with over consumption. You could also hand out drink tickets.
  2. Have the party outside of the office, in a licensed establishment that is able to monitor the consumption of alcohol.
  3. Make a call out to your workforce for people to be “sober volunteers” whose job is to supervise consumption and drive people home; these people can be applauded and offered incentives (such as gift cards or cash bonuses).
  4. Communicate with employees prior to the party that over consumption will not be tolerated and that anyone seen to be intoxicated will be sent home in a cab. Note that if someone is extremely intoxicated, they should also be escorted home by someone that has not been drinking.
  5. If it is in your budget, offer taxi chits to everyone leaving the party to ensure they get home safely.

Charlene Cleary is the principal and founding lawyer of Westshore Law. Serving clients on Vancouver Island and the mainland, she enjoys helping other business owners work through existing issues and also to help prevent future problems.

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