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The Liabilities Of A Company Christmas Party

Unwrapping the Risks: The Liabilities of a Company Christmas Party


Most companies have an annual company Christmas party.  Are you enjoying it or are you sitting there worrying about what could happen and what you can do about it.  The liabilities of a Company Christmas party are not something to just brush aside.  They can be serious and expensive.

You’re a business owner, no only can you be responsible for drunken guests, you may find out that there are much more hazards that you could end up having to deal with.

Company Christmas Party

It is traditional for business owners to invite employees and sometimes families to celebrate each December. Parties offer a great way for companies to make employees feel appreciated and to get to know each other and share the joys of the season. However, it is important to get familiar with the legal liabilities associated with hosting a business party so that you can avoid some potential problems.

Drinking At Parties

When you serve alcohol you are taking responsibility for your guests’ consumption. The last thing you want is for an employee to be insured or worse if they get into an accident and drink and drive,  It is possible that you many be held liable if this occurs.   So, how can you limit the danger to your business when you are serving drinks?

  • Hire bartenders: Bartenders have the experience of knowing when someone is drunk. Even if you have a limit on free alcohol, it is better to have someone that is not an employee dispensing the alcoholic drinks. Instruct bartenders to keep you informed if someone is too drunk so you can limit alcoholic service.
  • Serve food: People get drunk faster when drinking on empty stomachs.  Make sure there are plenty of things to eat.
  • Have plentiful soft drinks: Provide non alcoholic beverages like sodas, sparkling juices, bottled water and other appealing “virgin” drink options.
  • Hand out drink tickets: Limiting the number of free alcoholic drinks by giving out drink tickets. Once the tickets are gone, they can purchase their own drinks or drink the plentiful soft options.
  • Don’t serve alcohol: Choose to have you party earlier in the year or make it a lunch party and do not serve alcohol.
  • Offer shuttles or taxis: Make it easy for employees to and from the party without driving.

Sexual Harassment At Parties

When you combine a party, alcohol, employees all dressed up and loosened inhibitions, a sexual harassment may incident occur.  Sexual harassment can come in many forms and the holiday party can provide a perfect environment for most of them.  What can you do to prevent sexual harassment occurrences at your party?

  • Remind everyone of the policies: Send an email reminding people of the company’s sexual harassment policies and use that opportunity let them know that the policies apply to all company events.
  • Have a dress code: Suggest a dress code for the party that keeps things professional. Avoiding provocative dress can alleviate some forms of harassment.
  • Host a family event: Rather than just having an event for your employees, invite their spouses and families. Also invite clients or business partners, since the presence of other people may help keep the event appropriate.

Make It An Office Party

Rather than have a big party with alcohol, have a smaller holiday party at your office. Make it a catered buffet and do not serve alcoholic beverages, being at work will be a good way to limit some “out of work” behavior.

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