How to Host a Safe Holiday Celebration

Employee Holiday Gift: Safe Holiday Celebration

"Tis the season to be jolly…". The holiday season is fast approaching, signaling the start of employer celebrations across the country.  The end of the year is an opportune time to show appreciation to hard-working employees whose dedication has helped you succeed.

A holiday party can be a great way for employees to unwind and have a little fun; however, such festivities can also spell liability for employers if they are not handled carefully.

At their worst, events gone sour can result in considerable employer cost in the form of negligence claims, lawsuits, lost employee man-hours, and a tarnished company reputation in the workplace and the community.

Finding a balance between fun and safety is the key, and a little planning and caution can go a long way to keeping holiday celebrations safe and employer risks at a minimum.

One of the biggest potential problems that businesses face when hosting holidays parties is the liability that arises when alcohol is served.  Employers may be held liable if an employee consumes alcoholic beverages at a company-hosted event, then causes injury to him or herself or injures a third-party.  Add to this liability the guilt and sense of responsibility you might feel if a company party directly contributed to such an accident, and it is easy to see why taking safety precautions is such a crucial step in event planning.

To reduce your company’s liability during holiday party planning, consider alternatives to the traditional evening holiday party where alcohol is served.  For example:

  • Host a company picnic or field trip
  • Close the office early and sponsor a company luncheon or potluck
  • Start up a “Secret Santa” or gift exchange tradition
  • Rent a game room or movie theater to treat employees to an afternoon of amusement
  • Invite employees to an amusement park, carnival, or festival at the company’s expense

The benefit of sponsoring such alternative activities is not just a reduction in potential company liability, but also the opportunity it affords to involve the families of employees.  The success of a good business year or the strain of a bad business year is felt not only by the employees of a company, but also by those individuals closest to them.

As such, family and friends of employees may be equally deserving of a year-end celebration.  In addition, such family-friendly events foster a positive atmosphere that recognizes the impact your business environment has on the surrounding community, promotes strong family ties, minimizes the likelihood and occurrences of distasteful behavior, and allows co-workers and their families to get to know each other.

If your company does choose to host an event where alcohol is served, it is still possible to minimize company liability and reduce the risk to partygoers.  Consider the following "Safe Celebration" tips:

  • Provide plenty of non-alcoholic alternatives for partygoers
  • Limit the length of time the bar is open and number of alcoholic drinks served to each party attendee
  • Provide transportation (taxis, buses) or pre-arranged designated drivers for all partygoers
  • Monitor party-goers’ behavior to ensure that no one is putting themselves in harm’s way and identify those individuals whose alcohol consumption has exceeded an appropriate tolerance level
  • Hold the party in an establishment with a liquor license, such as a restaurant or bar
  • Hire a professional bartender to serve all drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic
  • Look into obtaining liability insurance to cover the event

Holidays festivities are meant to be enjoyable and an opportunity to celebrate another successful business year.  By taking the proper precautions and with an ounce of planning, your next company event is sure to be a fun-filled and safe celebration.

For more information on Employee Holiday Planning and employee holiday gifts or other Payroll, Benefits or Human Resource contact AmCheck at 1-888-AMCHECK.

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