Office Holiday Survival Guide

A Risky Cocktail: Alcohol and an Employee Party

Tradition dictates year-end celebration and resolution.  For an office’s annual party, should such a “celebration” include alcohol?  If management’s answer is “yes,” then common sense ought to be applied to maximize the safety and well-being of all attending as well as the public.  For example:

  • Hold the event at a restaurant or other outside facility licensed to serve alcohol;
  • Have a “no-host” bar with employees to buy their own alcohol (and with plentiful non-alcoholic drinks provided for free);
  • If it’s to be an “open” bar, provide participants with a limited number of “drink tickets,” requiring them to purchase their own past that limit:
  • Ensure a professional bartender is handling the purchases and distribution and has definite instructions on limiting service to the attendees;
  • Serve food of course, thus avoiding the added intoxicating effect of an empty stomach;
  • Serve food low in salt, avoiding the additional thirst potentially created;
  • Hold the event within walking distance of the office and make arrangements for safe transportation home for anyone who needs it;
  • Include a statement on the party invitation and/or circulate a written reminder to all concerned on the responsibilities to drink only in moderation and to avoid driving after imbibing; and
  • Emphasize to management they are the example-setters at the event.

Another option would be to just not serve or provide the opportunity for alcohol at all while holding the event over a lunch time and with work to follow.

If you have any questions on employer liability in such circumstances, or on any other labor and employment matter, please contact us.

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