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Company Holiday Parties – Can you invite your temporary/contract employees?

Posted on Dec 17, 2018

It’s that time of year: handing out Secret Santa gifts, gathering at a group dinner, preparing end of the year celebrations.  It’s the annual office holiday party.

Many companies that utilize “temps” wonder if they can invite their temporary/contract employees to the company holiday party.  The answer can be confusing, but the key is the messaging or branding behind the purpose of the company holiday party.

The issue that employers wrestle with is the concept of “co-employment.”  Co-employment is defined as “a relationship between two or more employers in which each has actual or potential legal rights and duties with respect to the same employee.”  That being said, who is the employer?  Temporary/contract employees are employees of the staffing firm.  They are not classified as employees of the company who is hiring the temp on assignment.

Many companies now rely on contractors. As the scope of a project grows, the contractor stays longer than intended and begins to blend into the office environment. They attend company functions and, in some cases, travel on behalf of the client.  Original staffing augmentation contracts get extended several times and the distinction between contractor and employee is blurred.  Before you know it, a “temp” has been with the company longer than most employees.

The best practice for a company that desires to open its holiday party to both internal employees and contractors is to brand its holiday party as a “Company holiday party.”  Try to refrain from using the phrase “employee holiday party” in messaging.  Companies can also invite vendors, suppliers, and  family members to further make the distinction.  Keep the communication consistent across all channels.  Another good idea is to inform the staffing agency of the party so they can also invite their employee to the holiday party.

A nice, generous gesture requires a little preparation.  Who said nice guys finish last?


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