How to avoid party fouls and up the fun at corporate shin-digs

With pandemic restrictions in the rear-view mirror, you may be heading to a corporate holiday party for the first time in a couple of years. Shilpa Downton has the do's and don'ts to keep employers and employees on the straight and narrow... and still enjoy that corporate shindig!

Corporate holiday parties are back in full swing around Canada now that pandemic restrictions have receded, but there are some things to be mindful of to keep up the good times.

When it comes to mixing business and pleasure, Vered Levant from Vimy HR in Calgary says that it’s important to establish boundaries to keep the fun going for everyone.

“A lot of organizations will have a code of conduct. They actually all need to abide by occupational health and safety rules to create an environment that’s free of harassment and discrimination,” Levant said.


“So creating a space that is inclusive allows people to partake or not partake.”

Even if the event is being held offsite and outside of working hours, it is considered an extension of the workplace, and according to Nicola Di Iorio with DS Lawyers Canada, that means the employer assumes the responsibility and could be liable in certain circumstances.

“The employer has a duty to take the necessary steps to ensure that there’s a precaution in place,” Di Iorio said. “Because many things can happen at a party.”

Di Iorio explains that in cases involving harassment, the employer should immediately intervene and, if necessary, impose appropriate disciplinary measures.

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Levant says people in leadership roles need to set the bar, both inside and outside of the workplace.


“Everybody’s behaviour matters. So if you’re hosting the party as the CEO, as part of the executive team or any sort of leader, your behaviour is really important because you are the role model for your organization,” Levant said.

“So it’s really important that you show up well [and] abide by your company policies. The intent of your actions isn’t really what matters, [it’s] the impact.”

Employers are strongly encouraged to monitor alcohol consumption to keep staff safe and have non-alcoholic drink options in the mix.

Levant offers some simple tips.

“Eat, drink responsibly, and be reasonably merry.”