Thanksgiving is coming up next week. And although parts of northern New York may be chest-deep in snow right now, the roads will eventually be cleared and people will be in the mood to celebrate the holiday season that runs from Thanksgiving through the end of the year.
If you are a business owner, you may be planning to reward your employees’ hard work with a holiday party. This can be great for company morale, but can also come with some liability risks, especially if the party will be held at work. As you plan this year’s party, please do so with an eye toward premises liability defense.
Among the more serious concerns are those relating to alcohol. If alcohol will be served to your employees, it is crucial to have a plan and a policy in place to ensure that:
- No employees are over-served
- No employees leave the party and drive drunk
- No employees are injured on the property as a result of consuming too much alcohol
- No employees are given alcohol illegally
How can you protect yourself in this regard? For starters, you may want to hire bartenders instead of having a self-service policy. In addition to adding a touch of elegance to the party, bartenders can be instructed to monitor guests’ intake and “cut off” employees who may be drinking too much. They can also ask for ID from any employees who look younger than age 25 or so. To further limit consumption, you can give out a certain number of drink tickets to each eligible employee at the beginning of the night.
In addition to alcohol, you will want to serve non-alcoholic drinks and plenty of food. This bit of good hosting will also help mitigate the effects of alcohol on employees who are drinking.
Finally, if the office has been converted from a work space into a party space, you will need to make sure that there are no significant slip, trip or fall hazards. This includes clearing out excess items that sit on the floor and making sure that the space is adequately lit.
The holiday season is just around the corner. And although it’s a great time to celebrate, the holiday season is no time for injuries on company property. Please plan accordingly to make sure your party will be fun and incident-free.
Source: Property Casualty 360, “It's holiday party time: Plan ahead to minimize employer liability,” Rosalie L. Donlon, Nov. 13, 2014