Last updated: March 30, 2020
Holiday parties allow employers to show their appreciation to their staff with an evening of fun, relaxation and merry-making. Most holiday parties go off without a hitch but, if you don’t lay down rules and consider measures to avoid incurring liability, the party could become much more costly than anticipated.
Improper use of alcohol may expose employers to liability under tort, workers’ compensation or other laws. For example, an employer may be held liable if a person consumes alcoholic beverages at a company-sponsored party and subsequently causes a crash. Some employers have been held liable because negligent acts by employees under the influence of alcohol consumed at employer-sponsored events were found to be within the scope of their employment.
USA Mobile Drug Testing encourages all employers to plan a safe holiday party while preventing impaired driving and potential for accidents.
Please review the tips below to help plan a safe and sober holiday party.
- Be honest with employees. Make sure your employees know your workplace substance abuse and sexual harassment policies and that these policies are to be followed not just in the office, but at any office social function.
- Post the policy. Use every communication vehicle you have available to ensure employees know company policies. Prior to an office party, use break room bulletin boards and office e-mails to communicate policies and concerns.
- Reinvent the office party concept. Why have the typical office party? Consider something new like an indoor carnival, group outing to a performance/event or a volunteer activity with a local charity.
- Make sure employees know when to say when. If you do serve alcohol at an office event, make sure all employees know they are welcome to attend and have a good time, but they are expected to act responsibly. Use commercial bartenders who are trained in how to identify and handle intoxicated individuals. Rather than having an open bar, consider handing out a limited number of drink tickets.
- Make it the office party of choice. Ensure that there are plenty of nonalcoholic beverages available.
- Eat … and be merry! Avoid serving lots of salty, greasy or sweet foods that tend to make people thirsty. Serve foods rich in starch and protein — they stay in the stomach longer and slow the absorption of alcohol into the bloodstream.
- Designate party managers. Remind all managers that even at the office party, they need to enforce the company’s policies.
- Arrange alternative transportation. Anticipate the need for alternative transportation for partygoers and make special transportation arrangements in advance of the party. Encourage all employees to make use of the alternative transportation if they consume alcohol.
- Serve none for the road. Stop serving alcohol well before the party officially ends.
- Keep your party governed by social host laws. To this end, you should never require employees to attend a party. You should also try not to conduct business at the party. Try to hold the party off site, away from the office.
The holidays are times of joy and celebration. Help make your holiday party a success by using proper planning and governance. By following these simple tips and encouraging professional conduct, your office party will be a hit, making it a tradition for years to come.
USA Mobile Drug Testing, LLC wishes you and yours a happy and safe holiday season.