Keep employees safe at (and after) your company holiday party

3 minute read

Bar and restaurant owners can face lawsuits if their customers become intoxicated and damage property, injure themselves or hurt others.

Many people, however, are unaware that this liability applies to anyone who serves alcohol, not just those in the bar, restaurant and entertainment industry. So here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re hosting a party with alcohol for your employees this holiday season.

Reduce the risk of employee injury

Whether it’s a reception for business associates, a full-blown office party or just a pleasant seasonal get together for the staff, host liquor liability could apply to you. So if there’s alcohol on the menu, take precautions to prevent your staff from driving while intoxicated. This will reduce the risk of them injuring themselves or others and lower your chances of facing a lawsuit.

The first step is serving alcohol responsibly, thereby preventing employees from becoming intoxicated and driving while impaired. If someone leaves the party, drives impaired and is involved in an accident, the individual(s) who provided the alcohol could be held liable. In fact, not only could you face legal action from the third party that was hurt in an accident, but also from the impaired driver that was served alcohol at your event as well.

Keep in mind that even if the event was catered and professional bartenders were exclusively responsible for serving drinks, the host can still be held liable for making sure guests don’t drive while impaired.

Prevent alcohol-related accidents

Taking action to prevent alcohol-related accidents shows genuine concern for your guests’ well-being and demonstrates that you made an effort to keep guests from drinking excessively and driving while impaired.

Here are a few things you can do to help your guests arrive home safely:

Attitude

It all starts with your attitude.

  • Don’t suggest or imply that anyone is expected to drink irresponsibly to fit in.
  • Lead by example. Owners and managers should consume alcohol reasonably.

Transportation

Here are a few simple ways to stop partygoers from drinking and driving:

  • Organize car pools with designated drivers. Not everyone at the get-together will be drinking so some people will be able to drive others. Make sure designated drivers have a selection of non-alcoholic drinks and that they feel appreciated.
  • Make arrangements with nearby hotels to provide special room rates for the attendees that do not want to drive. Don’t put anyone in a situation where they are obliged to drive after drinking.
  • Provide taxi chits to attendees so they can get them home safely without having to worry about costs.

Monitoring

Monitoring staff is one way to show them you care.

  • Brief your caterer’s servers and bartenders in advance. Share your stance on excess drinking and insist that they report any problems to you.
  • Arrange for some of your middle and senior staff to be non-drinking “ushers” during the event. Junior staff may be intimidated by dealing with senior colleagues.

If someone clearly isn’t able to drive, ask for their car keys and arrange their transportation home. Make sure they’re escorted to the taxi or alternate vehicle.

Don’t view these added costs as expenses but rather as investments in your staff and business partners. It’s easy to break down these issues from a corporate liability standpoint but their greatest impact is in human terms. While insurance may help cover defence costs and lawsuits, it can’t replace a life. So take appropriate measures to keep your guests safe this holiday season!