Holiday Cheer

September 26, 2014 | Leave a Comment

As the holidays approach, so too does the season for office parties. Oftentimes, alcohol will also be present at office parties, which can present some issues for companies who want to thank their employees (and their families) for another year of hard work, but also need to protect themselves from a liability standpoint. There are several options which can allow for cheerfully boozy yet safe celebration for all.

Have your event off-site. Using an offsite venue may reduce the likelihood of overconsumption as it will be the sites staff’s responsibility to monitor and handle those who may have had too much. Offsite venues will also be responsible for obtaining the proper licensing materials, taking that responsibility out of your hands as an employer.

Don’t host an Open Bar. Limit the amount of alcohol any guest may have by providing a limited number of drink tickets, or providing an open bar for a short period of time.

Make it optional. Making the party optional can protect employers from potential wage and overage claims. Also, this can serve to limit your business’s liability for the acts of any employee who may get too merry, by carving out that the event was not within the scope of employment. It may also be best to avoid making the event out to be an extension of your business, such as handing out bonuses or making speeches related to business success of the past year. Keeping it light and informal will not only potentially be more enjoyable for attendees, but it will maintain a sharp distinction between the event and the workplace, protecting against vicarious liability claims.

Provide safe rides home. Many employers are now offering cab vouchers or arranging for shuttles to and from office parties, to keep their employees and others on the road safe.

Holiday parties are a time to celebrate the year gone past and to show appreciation to employees. Alcohol can safely be a part of that celebration with some minor precautions. Cheers to the upcoming holidays.


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