There is nothing like taking the joy out of the seasonal festivities by creating a waiver document for the annual happy time company party. A signed document no doubt is taking legal preparation to an unnecessary high but nonetheless there can be serious issues to be considered and certain steps put in place for the sake of employers and employees alike.

PC Overboard ?

The most obvious issue is that naming the festive event as a “Christmas” or “Hanukkah” or a similarly titled party is going to lead to unnecessary problems. Does this mean no Christmas tree – likely so, indeed.

A Place of Employment?

There are numerous human rights and employment law cases which have concluded that events such as the company annual party is an extension of the employment relationship.


The consequences of the above are enormous. Inappropriate conduct will readily be cause for disciplinary action. The employer will be wise to have a sober monitor in place to ensure that the event is safe and secure for its employees. Indeed, the company arguably may be vicariously liable for any wrongdoing of its staff members at the party.

Management should insist that the participants have access to taxi chits or other safe transit for the ride home to avoid any potential liability for the misdoings of inebriated drivers.

Persons serving alcohol, where the event is internally catered, should be Smart Serve certified and not students hired from craigslist.

While cannabis may be indeed legal, the employer still has the right to ban its use at such a function.

Advance Notice?

It certainly seems to be letting the air out of the Happy Days balloon, but a policy document or preparatory email to all employees setting out the above terms would be an excellent idea.

Employers’ Take Note

Company management should take proper planning before the grand event to avoid legal claims from what was intended as a celebratory evening. Is all this too much? Perhaps the regrettable alternative is to bonus the employees and allow them to enjoy the season on an individual level. Whatever the prevailing philosophy, a fundamental knowledge of the legal issues is the cornerstone.

Employees’ Side

Individuals should know their responsibilities continue after the office or shop is closed for the day. A person who has been harassed by a drunken co-worker should also be aware of their rights.

Get Advice and Know Your Rights

Whichever side of the management line you be on, it is most important to understand the legal underpinning. Get advice and know the law. For advice on this issue from either side, contact the offices of Toronto employment lawyers Grosman Gale Fletcher Hopkins. We regularly advise workplace parties on a wide range of legal workplace issues. Contact us online or by phone at 416 364 9599 to schedule a consultation.