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Top Tips: Holiday Parties: Practical Guidelines for Employers

The holiday season is drawing near. Employers often sponsor holiday parties and provide alcohol at these functions. A common concern among employers is their potential liability for furnishing alcohol to their guests should the guest be involved in a vehicle accident afterwards. Following are some general guidelines to help reduce or minimize potential liability.

1. Don’t charge admission; if you do, make it a nominal amount.
2. Don’t conduct any business at the function; make it a social event.
3. Don’t require attendance by employees; make it voluntary.
4. Don’t hold it on your premises; have it off-site.
5. Don’t hold it during normal business hours; have it after-hours.
6. Use a paid non-employee bartender who also supplies the alcohol.
7. Don’t allow guests to “BYOB.”
8. Don’t allow unlimited alcoholic drinks; consider using drink tickets.
9. Offer non-alcoholic beverages and food to slow alcohol absorption.
10. Don’t continue to serve alcohol to an intoxicated guest.
11. Don’t serve alcohol to underage guests; require ID if in doubt.
12. Close the bar an hour or so before the end of the party.
13. Don’t allow employees to return to work afterwards.
14. Don’t allow employees to operate employer-owned vehicles afterwards.
15. Provide designated drivers and/or taxicabs.

If you have any questions or need assistance regarding legal issues related to holiday parties, please contact Sue Willman.