Keep Employees Safe From Violence:
As per Bill 168, employers have an obligation to take explicit actions to reduce the risk of violence against their workers. This can include hiring additional staff for the holidays, having managers or security guards ensure that interactions do not escalate, and finding ways to reduce stress for your employees. Concrete plans on how to curb excessive alcohol consumption during holiday parties is also important.
Bill 168 also makes employers liable if they fail to prevent domestic violence from impacting the workplace (which includes workplace events like a Christmas party). If you suspect domestic violence or know of a history of spousal violence, it might be necessary to prevent that individual from attending. Due to the delicate nature of this issue, we recommend getting legal advice before taking action.
Keep Your Party a Positive Experience For All:
- Provide transportation for your employees or arrange for designated drivers if you are serving alcohol at an office party
- Ensure you provide ample food to help mitigate the impact of alcohol and that you serve options that meet the various dietary needs of your employees (include vegetarian, kosher, and non-gluten options)
- Set a clear start and finish time to the Christmas party and designate a supervisor for the event to make sure things go smoothly
- Ensure that every employee is invited (you don't want to leave anyone out). Remember that not everyone in the company has a working company email address. Remember any co-op students or interns. Remember those who work out of a different location or home office. Remember those on sick leave or maternity leave.
- Be sure that everyone understands that attendance is not compulsory - you may have employees who do not celebrate Christmas or who have childcare needs or other issues preventing them from attending
- Book your event at a location that is accessible for people with disabilities or mobility issues
- Prior to the event, advising all employees that the Christmas party is a work event and that they are expected to conduct themselves in a manner which they would in the workplace
- Ensure there is a complaints process for any issues that may arise after the party and follow-up on any incidences that may have occurred, however minor they may seem
- Advise managers not to discuss career potential or renumeration with employees at the Christmas party, as words of encouragement and good intentions may end up being misinterpreted
- Be wary of employees posting embarassing or disparaging photos on social media, particularly if they are identifying the company name in their posts
- Be respectful of the beliefs of non-Christians
Keep It Real With Secret Santa:
Organizers of the gift exchange must ensure participants are aware that Secret Santa falls under your company's HR existing policies and that anyone selecting a gift that might cause offense or be construed as bullying or harassment will face consequences.
Keep Holiday Scheduling Fair:
When ensuring you have adequate coverage for their customers, employers should select employees to work during this period based on the business needs of the employer and should be in a position to objectively justify their selection of employees. Employers should be mindful not to target employees that do not have children or do not celebrate Christmas. Allowing employees to volunteer to work or setting up a rotating schedule are other strategies you may deploy to keep things fair.
Keep "Decking The Halls" Safe:
Having someone injured or putting in a WSIB claim is not the way you want to start the holidays! Take precautions such as providing staff with suitable step ladders to put up decorations, making sure that Christmas trees are not blocking fire escape routes or exits, and checking any novelty lighting for defects.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Season's Greetings everyone!