11/09/13 By Jennifer Brown

Mitigate-Holiday-PartiesThe holiday season is upon us and you may be thinking about hosting a holiday party for your employees. While company parties can be a wonderful way to spend some time with your employees and celebrate their contributions to your company’s success, they can also pose a significant risk to you – especially if you serve alcohol. Did you know that:

• If an employee drinks too much and gets into an accident on their way home, you could be liable?
• Sexual harassment complaints tend to increase when alcohol is served?

If you are going to serve alcohol at a party, here are some recommendations for mitigating your liability and keeping your employees safe:

1. Remind employees before the party that all work policies apply to company events – including parties held after hours. If you

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don’t have company alcohol and sexual harassment policies in place – develop and distribute them to your employees A.S.A.P.!

2. Limit consumption by:

– having a cash bar or providing tickets good for only two drinks.
– closing the bar at least 90 minutes before the end of the event.

3. Serve food and water throughout the evening – up until the party actually ends.

4. Offer transportation by providing taxi rides at the company’s expense.

5. Hold the party at a hotel and get discounted room rates so that employees have the option of staying over – even offer to pay for employees’ stays.

6. Have the party off-site where the alcohol is served by the facility’s employees.

7. Keep the event social versus an official company function by:

– making it voluntary,
– inviting spouses or guests of the employees,
– not making any presentations about company business,
– holding the party outside of regular business hours, and
– not inviting customers, clients, or business associates.

8. If you expect families to attend, ensure minors are not served any alcohol.

9. Establish procedures in advance to handle any poor behavior that occurs. Make sure you take immediate action at the party with any guest who is behaving inappropriately.

YOUR TURN: What steps have you taken to create a fun holiday party while mitigating your risk and keeping your employees safe? Please leave your comments below!


photo credit

Jennifer Brown is the founder of PeopleTactics LLC, she is devoted to helping small business owners implement solutions to prevent Human Resources problems that drain them of their time, money, and energy. Jennifer works with small businesses in order to help them build stronger employee relationships, understand and comply with employment laws, establish policies, and set up easy-to-use HR systems to consistently avoid problems.

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