While December is synonymous with festivities, it can be a source of concern for employers planning this long-awaited team gathering. 

When organizing a holiday party reception for employees, whether on or off the premises, the employer remains responsible for taking appropriate measures to ensure the health, safety and dignity protection of its employees. 

Here is a brief reminder of the rules of conduct and a few tips to help you get through the holiday season in good spirits!

If you are ready to send out invitations, here are our tips.

Our Advice

I. Before the party


Remind your employees in a clear communication that the Code of Conduct and the policies in effect during this festive evening. In this regard, it may be appropriate to outline your applicable policies on civility and harassment prevention. It can also be specified that the employer will not tolerate any unprofessional behaviour, while listing concrete examples of what is prohibited. 

Indeed, providing a harassment-free environment is part of the legal obligations to which an employer is subject, even in a party. The employer can be held responsible for any prejudice suffered by an employee as a result of derogatory gestures or vexatious behaviour towards another employee or manager, for example. 


In this correspondence, remind employees of the organization’s drug and alcohol policy, if applicable, and clearly indicate your expectations regarding their consumption during the party. As an example, some elements can be specified: 

  • How many glasses of alcohol will be provided to employees by the company?
  • Will they be able to consume it at their own expense and, if so, under what conditions? For example, it may be specified that the employer expects each employee to consume alcohol in moderation.
  • You will need to determine not only whether cannabis use is permitted, but whether you will tolerate an employee’s participation in the party under the influence of cannabis.
  • To this end, determine in advance how you will limit alcohol consumption. 
  • Closing the bar a few hours before the party ends. 
  • Not offering open bar service.
  • Instructing bartenders not to serve alcohol to intoxicated employees and asking them to notify you if they notice an employee is in an advanced state of intoxication.
  • Offer a limited number of drink coupons. 
  • Offer a variety of non-alcoholic beverages.

In addition to the above, it would also be appropriate to specify in the correspondence in question what the consequences will be if employees do not respect the rules. 


Employees should be advised in a timely manner of the encouraged transportation methods in order to plan in advance. For example: 

  • Shuttle service
  • Taxi vouchers
  • Walk-home or a Drive-You-Home service
  • Breathalyzer for employees who would drive home
  • Implementation of a designated driver system

By putting such measures in place beforehand and acting in a preventive manner, in addition to being aware of what is happening at the party, the employer is taking steps to limit its legal liability.

II. At the Party

Managers should limit their alcohol consumption. This directive and expectation should be communicated to them well in advance of the party. They will need to set an example and be in a position to act quickly if there is an incident or if they witness inappropriate behavior. 

The employer’s representatives must also be on the lookout for any incident or event involving an injury. If an employee is injured at the party, they should immediately respond, take witness statements and complete the appropriate documentation. This way, you will gather useful information in the event that the employee files a claim with the CNESST for a work-related accident. Should this be the case, all claims are analyzed on a case-by-case basis and we will be available to assist you.

III. After the Party

Take a moment to discuss with your managers for their feedback. It is also essential to intervene with offending employees as soon as you are informed of inappropriate behavior. 

Have a great party!

Practical advice

Although the employer has certain obligations and responsibilities during holiday celebrations, it is important and expected by the employees because it shows the employer’s appreciation and it promotes team cohesion. These few precautions will allow you to take full advantage of the festivities, to build relationships with your colleagues in a less rigid setting.