Employment Law

We Wish You a Liability-Free Holiday Season… And a Happy New Year!

With the holiday season upon us, many employers and employees are looking forward to the office holiday party. For many employers, this may be the first in-person holiday event in the last few years. All the more reason to revisit some important reminders and tips to help employers, employees and guests enjoy a safe and fun holiday party season.

While most workplace events take place without incident, here are some preventive measures that employers can take to mitigate risks associated with being a social host:

Provide Transportation Options

  • Hold events at non-work locations, ideally close to public transit so that employees and their guests have alternative forms of transportation readily available.
  • Proactively help to coordinate transportation for employees and guests and notify employees of their options.
  • Provide compensation to employees for transportation to and from the event. Compensation can include taxi chits, reimbursement for taxi fare, Uber or Lyft charges, or providing hotel rooms for the night.

Avoid Drinking and Driving

  • Remind employees of their personal responsibility not to drive after they have consumed alcohol or cannabis. If you have a policy regarding substance use at work-sponsored social events, remind the employees of this policy.
  • Take any steps necessary to ensure that intoxicated employees do not drive. This may include taking the employee’s car keys, driving an employee to their home, and notifying the police if the employee refuses to cooperate and they try to drive home.

Limit Substance Consumption

  • Consider holding an alcohol-free event – this may be a more inclusive option for employees and guests who do not consume alcohol.
  • Alternatively, if alcohol is provided, take steps to regulate alcohol consumption by limiting the number of drinks per person and by hiring professional servers who are trained to monitor and regulate alcohol consumption. Opt out of an open or unsupervised bar.
  • Ensure that there are non-alcoholic options available and plenty of food.
  • First and foremost, lead by example with responsible and sober management.

Review Workplace Policies

  • Before the event, remind employees that all workplace policies, including harassment and bullying policies, will apply at the event. This is a great opportunity to provide some further training on your workplace policies.
  • Encourage employees who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or the flu to celebrate the season remotely unless they are well-enough to attend at the workplace.

Liability Insurance

  • Take steps to ensure that you have the appropriate liability insurance for your event, keeping in mind that social host liability may extend to an incident that occurs after a guest has left the event.

We wish you and your employees a safe holiday season.