Hosting a Company Holiday Party? Limit Your Liability.

Written by on 12/7/2015 8:00 AM . It has 2 Comments.

drinking at the company holiday party

The end of the year company holiday party may be one of the most anticipated events of the year for your company. Secret Santa traditions, ugly holiday sweaters, or simply unwinding and celebrating the end of a busy year - everyone has their reasons to enjoy the company party, but as the business owner, you should know it’s not without its risks, either.

By all means, have a party - they’re great for morale. Make sure to keep your company’s liability in mind when you set it up, though. Take a look at these 8 tips to protect your business and keep your employees safe during this year’s holiday party.

  1. Consider the venue. A restaurant or other off-site location with professional servers and bartenders may be best. They’ll carry their own liquor liability coverage and a professional bartender knows when to turn off the tap for someone who’s had too much.
  2. Check your own liability insurance. Some states allow the host of a party to be held liable when liquor is served even if you’re at a restaurant or bar. For many businesses, your general liability may cover you, but check with your insurance agent first.
  3. Make sure you have an Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI) policy and that it includes third party coverage. An EPLI policy covers you for discrimination, sexual harassment, and other work-related claims and issues with your employees. With the inclusion of third parties, if someone has too much to drink and says something inappropriate to a client or another non-employee, you’ll still be covered.
  4. Encourage your employees to be responsible and urge management to lead by example. The company party is a time to relax and let loose, but within reason. Drinking too much and acting foolish or, worse, getting behind the wheel will turn a fun night sour very quickly.
  5. Always offer non-alcoholic drink options. Give people a choice not to drink with options like soda, water, tea, and coffee. When people eat while they drink, they tend to drink less, too.
  6. Limit the amount of alcohol you purchase for your employees. People tend to consume less when they have to buy their own drinks.
  7. Arrange with the venue to stop offering alcoholic beverages before the evening ends. The unlimited bottles of wine should disappear and the bar should close. Switch to non-alcoholic options.
  8. Make alternate transportation available for anyone who’s had too much to drink. Let people know about it before the party and encourage them to use it at the end of the night.

The fun of a great holiday party can turn into a nightmare when just one employee has a little too much to drink. Even after they leave for the night, you can still be held liable for an employee’s drunken actions if your party contributed to their inebriation. Take precautions before and during the party so everyone has a good time and the everyone remains safe.


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