This is the most wonderful time of the year for most. Religious, cultural and seasonal celebrations with family, friends and business colleagues can be wonderful experiences. To keep it wonderful, employers should incorporate the following suggestions into their holiday party in order to help minimize their risk and liability when alcohol is a factor:
• Let employees know that participation at the event is voluntary and not mandatory. Remember, if participation is mandatory employers must pay employees for their attendance.
• Use professional bartenders to serve and monitor alcohol consumption and hold the event at an off-site location during nonworking hours.
• Communicate to all employees that excessive drinking at the party is not acceptable and that intoxication and inappropriate behavior while in attendance will be grounds for progressive disciplinary action and removal from the event.
• Do not provide open bars. Provide cash bars and implement a drink limit per individual. Be careful if using the ticket system as nonalcoholic drinking attendees may give their tickets to an alcohol drinking attendee, increasing overall consumption.
• Managers and supervisors should refrain from purchasing alcoholic drinks for employees and or guests of the party.
• Designate one or more management team members to abstain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that they can keep an eye on guests and make sure that intoxicated guests do not drive.
• Offer nonalcoholic drinks and serve food rich in starch and protein to enable the digestive system to slowly absorb any alcohol that may be in one’s system.
• Provide entertainment so that drinking is not the focus of the event.
• Arrange for alternative transportation home for those who may be intoxicated.
• Arrange for a block of rooms at a hotel, near the event venue that employees can reserve at a discount.
• Stop serving alcohol before the party officially ends.
• Remind managers and supervisors that even at the company sponsored event, they may need to implement the company’s alcohol and substance abuse policies.
Remember, employees are an employer’s “biggest” business asset. They need to make sure that during this joyous time of the year that they are protected. By following the simple suggestions listed above, everyone in attendance at your holiday celebration should have the merriest of times.
Written By: Kristen Shingleton, M.B.A., CCP
President, New Focus HR