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Holiday Party Planning: Minimizing Employer Liability
November 28, 2012
Author(s): Lindsie M. Thomson

At this time of year, many employers hostseasonal celebrations to recognize the efforts of employees over the past year.While the majority of holiday parties proceed without incident, employers shouldbe aware of the potential liability risk when hosting an event at which alcoholis served. When planning holiday events, consider the following strategies forpromoting employee safety and minimizing employer liability:

  • Consider hosting an alcohol free event. If alcohol is provided, donot provide an open or unsupervised bar.
  • Before the event, inform employees that they must not drink anddrive, and notify employees about arrangements that have been made to help themget home safely. 
  • Take steps to arrange safe transportation options for employees. Considerproviding taxi vouchers, and do so at the outset of the event. 
  • Take steps to monitor alcohol consumption. Consider a ticket systemto limit the number of drinks each person is able to obtain. You may also hirethird party professional servers who will monitor and regulate alcoholconsumption. 
  • Ensure plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages are available.
  • Select an event location that is close to public transit so thatemployees have an alternative to driving to and from the party.
  • Consider a system for employees to leave their keys with anattendant when arriving at the event, to avoid the situation of having toremove keys from an intoxicated employee at the end of the event.
  • Be prepared to deal with intoxicated employees immediately and notwhen they are about to leave the party. This may include removing an employee’scar keys and ensuring the employee is driven home safely.
  • Ensure that you have appropriate liability insurance in place.

If you have any questions concerning the information presented in this article, please contact Lindsie Thomson, Partner.  We wish you and your employees a safe andhappy holiday season.