Whether it’s a holiday gathering or summer picnic…the annual office party is a great way to build morale, foster teamwork in a celebratory setting and reward employees for a job well done. However, if you serve alcohol, these events can result in significant liability for your company. Stay tuned for seven smart tips for reducing that risk.


As we just mentioned, office parties have plenty of positive benefits…but adding alcohol into the mix can potentially put a damper on your celebration. That said, many companies choose to serve alcohol at these gatherings for a variety of reasons. If you do, consider these tips and strategies for keeping your employees and your company safe.

1. Review your insurance coverage before the party. If the party will be hosted onsite at the workplace, determine whether you are covered for injuries or property damage if you serve alcohol. You may need to purchase separate special event coverage or an additional liquor liability policy.

2. Don’t make party attendance mandatory. Your employees should understand that no work will be conducted at the party, and their presence is not required.

3. Make it clear before the party that overindulgence and other offensive behavior are not acceptable. Remind employees that alcohol is no excuse for illegal or inappropriate behavior, such as sexual harassment.

4. If you want to minimize the chance of over-consumption, skip the traditional open bar. As you plan the party, evaluate the alcohol content of the drinks you’ll serve. According to the CDC, one 12-ounce beer contains about the same amount of alcohol as one 5-ounce glass of wine, or a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. You may opt to avoid serving hard liquor, and offer only beer and wine. You might also set up a cash bar, or provide a limited number of drink tickets to each attendee. Of course, you should also be sure to offer a nice variety of non-alcoholic drink options

6. No matter what drinks you opt for, stop serving all alcohol at least one hour before the party ends. This is the time to offer coffee, dessert and plenty of bottled water.

7. Make arrangements in advance for employees to get home safely. Offer free cabs and enlist designated drivers. This is critical. Remember: you could be held responsible if an employee leaves a company-sponsored party drunk.

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