It’s that time of the year again, when many organizations plan a social event for their employees in celebration of the holiday season. While this presents an opportunity to connect with staff in a less formal, more social setting, organizations need to recognize that employer-sponsored events outside of work are still considered the “workplace”, and that the have a responsibility to take steps to protect employees from harm or potentially face significant legal or financial consequences.

It is possible, however, to reduce potential liability with some careful planning, keeping the following considerations in mind:

  • Alcohol Consumption: Control the alcohol, and hire a licensed bartender. Provide limited drink tickets per person, and make sure the bartender feels supportive of refusing to serve those who may appear to be drinking excessively. Having a Manager (s) stay “dry” in case conflict occurs is also a good idea.
  • Transportation: Ensure those who are drinking will not be driving. Pre-arrange Taxi chits, pre-booking a car service, or providing hotel rooms to ensure employee safety. Communicating this to everyone prior to the event is also of critical importance.
  • General Awareness: Ensuring everyone knows company policies are still in effect, including Respectful Workplace Policies, will also help in limiting the potential of issues developing.