Tips for Employers to Minimize Liability Risk at Company Holiday Parties
With the holiday season quickly approaching, you might be planning an office holiday party in order to boost teamwork and morale amongst your own employees. But did you know that the office party opens you up to liability for a workplace lawsuit? Here are nine tips for employers to minimize liability risk at company holiday parties.
- Moderation is Key – Set a tone of moderation before the company holiday party by communicating this message early and often. Send emails, memos, etc., reminding employees to drink responsibly and to secure sober transportation to and from the event. Sometimes inviting the employees’ family members and/or important company clients can help maintain an air of festivity and responsibility.
- Don’t Make a List and Check it Twice – Party attendance should not be mandatory. It’s certainly not very festive, but worse, it increases your liability risk. Keep in mind that if you provide year-end awards or bonuses at the party, employees may infer they are obliged to attend.
- Coordinate Party Logistics – Consider holding the party off company premises, after working hours, and provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages. Be sure to close the bar at least one hour before the party is scheduled to end.
- Limit Libations Limit alcohol consumption. Possible methods are to give employee drink vouchers, keep the bar open for a limited number of hours or avoid serving alcohol altogether.
- Say No to Mistletoe – Keep mistletoe out of your offices and your parties. The last thing you want is to have an employee complain about a co-worker’s unwanted advances.
- Don't Call the Shots! – During the work day, supervisors and managers call the shots. But they should never pour employees any alcoholic beverages during a company party.
- Hire Professionals – Not only will caterers or restaurant managers provide bartenders, they also have staff to clean up spills and generally keep the premises clean and safe.
- Provide Transportation – If you can’t pay for taxi cabs, limos or ride-share services like Uber or Lyft, organize carpools or designate sober drivers. Secure discounts at nearby hotels for employees with long drives or those who do overindulge.
- Anticipate Trouble – You can’t keep everyone safe all by yourself! Designate supervisors to help keep an eye out for the overly-intoxicated, the overly-amorous, and the overly-rude.
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