Prevent accidents, WC claims resulting from holiday parties
The holiday season will soon be in full gear, with many employers hosting gatherings to show workers an appreciation for a job well done. However, these year-end events can sometimes get out of hand and lead accidents, injuries and incidents sexual harassment.
Employers should take steps to ensure they are protected from potential areas of liability. When planning holiday parties, employers should:
- Keep attendance voluntary. Do not require employees to attend.
- Create holiday party policies. It is important to have guidelines in place for any company events. Because a holiday party is a work activity, it should be treated as such. These policies could include outlining worker responsibilities in your employee handbook, such as acceptable behavior at company gatherings.
- Avoid or limit alcohol. If you supply alcohol, you may be legally responsible for the welfare of the employee if he suffers from a drink-induced accident, even if it occurs outside of the party. If it is not feasible to eliminate alcohol, limit the number of drinks permitted, the length of time when alcohol is served or provide a cash bar. In addition, provide plenty of non-alcoholic alternative beverages.
- Know your state laws. Laws regarding the service of alcohol can vary greatly by state. It is crucial that corporate counsel examine under which conditions your business could be held liable and what liabilities may apply.
- Consider offering transportation if you serve alcohol. If you do serve alcohol at the event, consider hiring taxis or other forms of transportation for the end of the night to minimize drunk driving risks.
- Check the insurance coverage of anyone hired for the party. If you hire caterers, servers, bartenders or anyone else to provide and serve drinks, it is crucial that you check to see if they carry liability insurance that would cover any potential exposure for your business from the event.
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November 23, 2009
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