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So I work for I suppose we can say "Small company" with less than 70-80 employees.

We've been told we must attend the Christmas party and in doing so we'll be given a day off (to attend) and the following day off. However if we refuse to go then we must work.

Last year I was the only person working in the retail side of the company out of the whole company, some other employees who couldn't attend due to other reasons were able to still have paid leave.

This year I really don't want to go, I love my job but putting up with some people can be a real chore and with having issue personally with people anxiety doesn't help.

Can my boss still force me to go?

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    I mean, you have the answer right there - instead of attending simply go to work that day. Or take a personal day.
    – Aida Paul
    Nov 22, 2023 at 10:11
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    So if you go to the party, you get two days off. What if you decide to work? Can you also get the second day off?
    – Dominique
    Nov 22, 2023 at 10:22
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    @PappaHarper It's the company policy and you work for the company. You have no choice but following the policy unless you quit. Of course, you can sue the company. But, is it worth a law suit ?
    – Nobody
    Nov 22, 2023 at 11:10
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    1. Your employer can't force you to do anything. You have free will to say no, and to deal with the consequences of saying no. 2. This situation is clearly being mis-stated by you. They have given you two options; attend the party or work as you normally would. Take your pick.
    – joeqwerty
    Nov 22, 2023 at 14:31
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    It's the nature of work that sometimes people get told to do things they don't like. Sometimes it's to work with an annoying but rich customer. Sometimes it's to work on legacy software. In your case it's to attend a Christmas party. You at least get a choice. Nov 22, 2023 at 18:06

5 Answers 5

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There is nothing nefarious going on here.

Your company is holding a two day event. One is mandatory attendence of a party that probably stretches into the night, and one is a free day to rest.

You can attend, but attendence is absolutely optional, nothing bad will happen if you don't, you just work as you normally would have.

The one thing you don't get to do is cherry picking. You either take the two days as planned by the company, or you don't. You don't get to pick only the part you like better.

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    I don't think it's possible to say that "nothing bad will happen if you don't". Management - the people who decide on promotions, bonuses, and other aspects of your working hours - may look less favorably on people who don't attend. Failure to attend social events could have a negative impact on a career, even though they probably shouldn't. Nov 22, 2023 at 15:19
  • formulation nitpick: if you say "One is mandatory attendance of a party" doesn't that pretty much contradict "You can attend, but attendance is absolutely optional"? Nov 26, 2023 at 8:46
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    Well, in the event, attendence is mandatory. It is not mandatory to take part in the event. Like seatbelts are mandatory if you drive a car, but driving the car is not, you could just walk. No car, no seatbelt.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 26, 2023 at 9:49
  • @ThomasOwens It seems they need a certain amount of people to stay away, otherwise they would need to close their shops. I have never had any negative experiences staying away from company parties in my quarter of a century of working. Can I say with certainty, that the bosses won't look negatively on it? No. But we have no indication they do. The OP stayed away last year and nothing bad happened.
    – nvoigt
    Nov 26, 2023 at 9:58
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You have already been told from the start that there is an option. Go and get day off or work instead. So solution is just to work here.

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Part of your company's concern with offering time off without attendance at the party, is that a significant number of people given that choice may then prefer to use the time as personal holiday, so instead of enabling a collective workplace event it becomes a simple grant of additional holiday.

Your company most likely views the event as a morale-boosting and networking opportunity - something which the company stands to gain from in a particular way, not just each worker benefitting from personal enjoyment.

If you prefer to go into work and not attend, look on the bright side that work will probably be very slack that day. But it tips the balance of the choice against those who might want personal time off most of all (including those who will indeed attend the party, but would still skip it in preference to time off).

The important thing is not to frame the situation as a grant of personal advantage which you are being deprived of. They're giving you the option of being paid to socialise with colleagues instead of ordinary work.

And let's face it, many of us do not socialise with colleagues unless paid, and it is clearly something you are loath to do even if paid.

So just accept the alternative - attendance at work as usual. There may well be a smaller number of people present who equally dislike parties, and if so it may be another party in its own way.

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Can my boss still force me to go?

Obviously, you cannot be forced.

It's completely your choice: go or work. ("if we refuse to go then we must work")

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    But be the only person that works when everyone is able to have a day off just because they attended a party (nothing to do with work) Nov 22, 2023 at 11:06
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    @PappaHarper company policy is company policy. It doesn't need to be reasonable or adjust to your needs and wishes.
    – mrodo
    Nov 22, 2023 at 11:14
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    It's not a party, it's an offsite internal networking event Nov 22, 2023 at 12:15
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    "nothing to do with work" Companies typically view these social events as a way for people to network. build social connections, relax and thus improve productivity. Viewing it as "nothing to do with work" is an incorrect viewpoint Nov 22, 2023 at 12:18
  • @PappaHarper they had to suffer the party and get a day off for that pain. If you choose not to go, you don't need the rest obviously ... is a somewhat cynical way to look at it, but since you really don't want to go and seem to prefer regular work, it seems to fit perfectly - the party seems to be worse to you than work, that means it is different and justifies a different bonus ;) Nov 26, 2023 at 8:50
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You said:

some other employees who couldn't attend due to other reasons were able to still have paid leave.

Your answer is right there. Find something else to do that is an acceptable excuse to not attend the event and still receive the time off.

As noted by others, there could be consequences or missed opportunities as a result of missing a company social event.

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