Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Be Smart At Holiday Parties!

The end of the year is fast approaching and many offices will be throwing holiday parties, either in-house or in restaurants, clubs or bars.

It is also the season of many questions about drunkenness, sexual harassment, liability and many other touchy topics.

A few texts with useful reminders:
  • Serving Smart at Holiday Parties (Ogilvy Renault): " 'The liability risks of holding staff parties are a big concern for employers this time of year. They need to be responsible, inclusive and aware,' says David Bannon, a partner in Ogilvy Renault’s Employment and Labour Law practice. 'Companies can be liable if an employee has an accident after drinking at a holiday party. Employers also need to be sensitive to the diverse backgrounds and beliefs in their workplaces. And they should remember that liability for sexual harassment doesn’t stop at the office door'. "
  • Holiday Reminder (Gowlings): "While automobile crashes related to the consumption of alcohol are the incidents that first come to mind when you think of risks associated with holiday parties, employers also need to be alert to sexual harassment and other inappropriate conduct which may rear its ugly head just in time for the holidays. As well, a social atmosphere coupled with alcohol consumption, can magnify underlying problems in your workforce. Therefore, below are some guidelines to consider so that you can take preventative action before the holiday season is upon you..."
  • ‘Tis the season … for holiday parties and harassment complaints (McCarthy Tétrault): "Staff parties are a great way to celebrate the holiday season and to thank employees for their hard work over the previous year. Amidst all the excitement, employers must take care to protect themselves from potential liabilities. The following is a guide for employers on how to avoid legal liability arising out of sexual harassment complaints and motor vehicle accidents involving intoxicated employees."
  • Office holiday parties should be cause for celebration, not litigation (Canadian Employment Law Today): "Employers should follow these practices regardless of when or where the function is held, says McDonald. She warns that employer liability extends to off-site locations, which are considered part of the workplace if they are the site of company-sponsored events — even after normal working hours. Off-site functions have a combination of commercial host liability, which bars normally have, plus the employer’s obligation to provide a safe working environment, she says. If an employer chooses not to serve alcohol at the office holiday party, however, it doesn’t mean it’s free from responsibility. An employer can still be liable if violence, harassment or other criminal conduct takes place during a party."
  • Top 10 Holiday Party Offenses (Careerbuilder.ca): "According to a recent study, 36 percent of employers reported such behavioral problems as excessive drinking, off-color jokes, sexual advances and fistfights at last year’s company party. Fifteen percent of employees who engaged in inappropriate behavior reported a negative impact on his or her career growth. When work is bad, life is bad, so don’t take any risks this holiday season. Here are the top 10 offenses to avoid at this year’s company holiday bash."
  • The 7 worst office party blunders (Canoe.ca): "Yes, it's that time of the year again. A treacherous maze of white elephant gifts, semi-formalwear and the open bar, otherwise known as the holiday office party. Whether you're visiting the ghosts of holidays past or (gasp!) seeing your own future, you're bound to recognize at least a few of these party disasters. After all, it wouldn't be the holiday season without 'em. "

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:46 pm

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