With the holiday season looming, it is time to begin planning the annual office party. While seemingly innocuous, there is always a small chance of that party turning into a legal disaster. Christopher J. Bowman, a partner with the Irvine, California, office of Fisher & Phillips, suggests the following considerations when planning this year’s holiday party.
- Keep religion out. Employers should keep the party generic and avoid tying religion to the office party. Focus instead on gratitude for the year’s success.
- Avoid mixing lavish parties and layoffs. Consider the message you are sending to your employees.
- Control the bar. Avoid an “open bar” where employees can drink as much as they want. Use a cash bar or ticket system to keep drinking in check.
- Let a pro control the flow. Hire professional bartenders and instruct them to keep an eye on anyone who appears to have over-indulged. Make sure they ID guests who look under 21.
- Drive away liability issues. Arrange for a taxi service for employees who shouldn’t drive home. If the party is held at someone’s home and alcohol is being served, the hosts should be made aware of the personal liability they may face if someone drinks and drives.
- Invite spouses and significant others so someone will be there to help keep an eye on things and, if necessary, get their partners home safely.
- Remind employees of the rules. Your employees should have a good time, but they should remember that the company’s normal workplace standards of conduct will be enforced and misconduct can result in disciplinary action.
- Consider alternative celebrations. Consider a potluck or other event that is social and fun, but doesn’t offend in its extravagance. Or take a portion of the money spent on the holiday event and donate it to charity instead. iBi
Source: HR Daily Advisor