Holding an Office Holiday Party? Stay Ahead of These Liabilities

Holding an Office Holiday Party? Stay Ahead of These LiabilitiesIt is traditional for business owners to host a gathering for employees to share a little holiday cheer each December. Parties can be a great way for companies to make employees feel appreciated and for people to relax, get to know each other and share the joys of the season. However, you’ll need to be familiar with the legal liabilities associated with having a business party, to avoid potential problems and possibly, even lawsuits. Don’t let what should be a joyful occasion end up being an end-of-year problem!

Hold a ‘Winter’ Party

Some companies have moved away from holiday parties because of the religious and cultural issues that must be taken into account. Instead, they’re holding “new year” or “winter” celebrations in early January instead. That can set the tone for the company’s goals in the new year and eliminate some of the stress from trying to cram too many activities into December as they close out the year.

Remember religious and cultural differences as well. Most employees regardless of religion are comfortable with a Christmas tree and a menorah as decorations, but don’t force anyone to participate in gift exchanges or other rituals they’re not comfortable with.

Enforce an Alcohol Policy  

Make clear in pre-party communications that minors can’t drink and, if they do, they may be terminated. Announce that anyone who provides alcohol to minors may be terminated as well.

Limit the number of drinks the company provides by using drink tickets, stamping an employee’s hand in exchange for each drink limiting the number of stamps they can receive, or paying for everything except the drinks. When employees have to purchase their own drinks, they drink less.

Use trained bartenders to serve alcohol; never allowing employees to serve coworkers or themselves. Make sure your bartenders are clear that they are not to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be inebriated, and card employees just as if they were attempting to order booze elsewhere.

Limit the number of hours the bar is open, closing at a reasonable time to signal the ending of the event. With any alcohol present, a wide variety of risks open up to your business, so proper business insurance including liquor liability coverage is a must.  

Be Sure You’re Legally Covered

Make sure your business insurance coverages are up to date and adequately covers losses associated with the party. For example, if there’s dancing at the party, envision an employee getting carried away on the dance floor and falling. You may be facing a workers’ compensation claim for any injuries. Or, if an employee feels uncomfortable with or pressured by the celebrations, an employee practices liability (EPL) claim could be filed. If one of your employees is rowdy or belligerent and damages the party property or harasses a third party, general liability and professional liability would be necessary to cover your business.

Your agent might have suggestions about mitigating risks from holiday gatherings and weighing the pros and cons of the actions you might take.

About Byrnes Agency

At Byrnes Agency, we offer auto insurance solutions that can be tailored to meet your specific needs. Whether you have an old classic car or a brand-new model, we have the right coverage for you. To learn more about our products, contact us today at one of our two locations.

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