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Tis the Season: Liability and Your Office Christmas Party

office christmas partyChristmas is a great time to get together with coworkers and celebrate the year’s accomplishments with some holiday cheer. But have you thought about the liability issues around office Christmas parties?

Holiday parties are often considered by the courts to be an extension of the workplace, which means workplace rules apply and employers may be liable for violations by employees. Thoughtful planning can help you reduce your risk.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry: Alcohol

Improper use of alcohol at a company-sponsored party exposes employers to liability and workers’ compensation claims.  How can you reduce the risk?

  • Hire a licensed bartender to serve alcohol, monitor consumption, and refuse service to intoxicated guests.
  • Always serve food and have plenty of non-alcoholic drinks available.
  • Limit consumption by using drink tickets or a cash bar.
  • Arrange alternate transportation so employees know they do not need to drive if they’ve been drinking.
  • Check your commercial general liability (CGL) policy. It may cover the liability that comes with serving alcohol. Check with your insurance agent or broker to make sure.

Party Time

Alcohol consumption and the more relaxed atmosphere of a company party might lead to harassment or other inappropriate behavior. You can reduce the likelihood of this by:

  • Have conduct policies in place before the party, and enforce them consistently.
  • Remind employees that the code of conduct they follow during the work day also applies to the holiday party.
  • If a gift exchange is part of the party, make sure employees know what’s an appropriate gift and what’s not.
  • If an employee reports harassment, respond quickly and compassionately according to your policy.

As a business owner, you need the right liability insurance all year long. Contact us to discuss your insurance needs and make sure your policy has the coverage you need. Assistance is available via phone at 1-800-453-9691, or you can visit us in person at 320 Eagle Dr in Denton for professional help with any and all insurance matters.