Six Tips for Safe Holiday Celebrations

Employer-hosted events to celebrate the holidays and thank employees for jobs well done often come with liability and other risks when the events include alcohol.

"Impaired judgment and lowered inhibitions as a result of alcohol consumption give rise to a variety of dangers, such as driving under the influence, sexual harassment, slander and defamation," said Emily Franchi, loss prevention specialist for employment practices with CAMICO, the nation’s largest CPA-directed program of insurance and risk management for the accounting profession.

"Zero tolerance is the new norm, and employers should help ensure that employees are interacting respectfully and professionally," Franchi said. "The good news is that there are practical steps employers can take to help minimize exposures and keep employees safe."

Examples of safeguards that managers can apply include:
  1. Clearly communicate expectations to all staff that professional and sound judgment needs to be demonstrated during and after the event—the same high standards used in the workplace.
  2. Lead by example in high standards of behavior.
  3. Diligently monitor employee behavior.
  4. Limit the number of drinks with alcohol through the use of drink tickets.
  5. Allow a two- to three-hour window for serving drinks after the beginning of the event, and close the bar an hour or more before the end of the event.
  6. Host a driving service that will shuttle employees to and from the event, or provide an on-call driving service for employees who may have consumed alcohol.

Sometimes judgment calls need to be made on an employee's ability to safely drive. Host liquor liability insurance, which is often included in a general liability insurance policy or a Business Owners Policy (BOP), can also help protect businesses from losses resulting from liability for injury or damage. Employment Practices Liability insurance helps protect against claims resulting from allegations such as harassment, discrimination and retaliation.

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