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Considerations During the Holiday Party Season


Employer-sponsored parties are a time for employers to show appreciation for their employees and are important to employee morale. However, employer-sponsored parties can also be problematic for employers, especially where alcohol is served. Before your holiday party, consider the following:

  • Re-circulate and reaffirm the company’s commitment to the company’s antiharassment policy and remind employees to act responsibly. Communicate to employees that inappropriate conduct, even during a holiday party, will not be tolerated. Remind employees that the company’s work rules and policies, including the antiharassment policy, apply at company-sponsored parties and consider circulating such policies before the party to ensure that all employees (especially supervisors and management) are aware of conduct that will not be tolerated.

  • Investigate complaints promptly and thoroughly. If any inappropriate behavior is witnessed or if a complaint is received by management, do not dismiss the improper conduct simply because it took place during the holiday party. Take the matter seriously, investigate promptly and thoroughly, and take proper remedial action to the extent warranted.

  • Limit the amount of alcohol that will be served and serve plenty of non-alcoholic beverages. Remember that every employee may not drink alcohol or eat certain types of food. Provide several food and drink alternatives so all employees feel included. Consider hiring a professional bartender and instruct the bartender not to serve drinks to employees who are visibly intoxicated. You could also take certain steps to control the level of alcohol consumption by employees, including providing a limited number of drink tickets or limiting the time for alcohol service. Find creative ways to entertain employees so that alcohol is not the focus of the party.

  • Encourage employees to utilize designated drivers or consider arranging transportation. If alcohol is served at your employer-sponsored holiday party, consider arranging transportation for employees so that they can get home safely. Encourage employees to utilize ride-sharing apps if they plan to consume alcohol at the company-sponsored holiday party.

  • Keep attendance voluntary and refrain from engaging in business during the event. A holiday party should not be considered or viewed as part of an employee’s obligation.

Employees may think you are trying to take the fun out of the celebration if you follow all the above suggestions, but following the above suggestions may help you to avoid potential problems. Please contact a member of the Koley Jessen Employment, Labor and Benefits Practice Group if you have any questions.

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