All You Can Eat and Uber Rides: Avoiding Risk Hosting an Office Holiday Party

By Leigh Anne Strickland, Partner

We all want to have a great time and bond with colleagues and friends during the Holiday season, but to avoid major losses, it’s important for employers to secure the right insurance coverage for every individual risk and understand the common exposures of holiday parties. Here are some pointers we tell clients to keep in mind.

Alcohol:

As a social host, you may be responsible for the acts of your employees should their conduct create harm. These risks are increased when alcohol is served, and employers may be liable for damages following an incident.

To promote the safety of your employees and guests at company-sponsored events, consider the following:

  • Hold the event off-site at a restaurant or hotel.
  • Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night.
  • Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar. Limit the amount of alcohol you will serve. Require servers to measure spirits.
  • Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulate the room. Place table tents at each bar that remind employees and guests to drink responsibly.
  • Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the party. Do not offer a “last call,” as this promotes rapid consumption.
  • Entice guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by subsidizing taxis or promoting a designated driver program.

Property Damage:

Property damage can occur at just about any kind of event or party. As the host, it is your job to ensure your guests remain safe, behave appropriately and respect the venue. To ensure that your employees and guests remain safe, employers should consider the following:

  • Set behavior expectations before the party.
  • Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behavior. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
  • Review your liability insurance and know what it covers.
  • Ensure the venue is equipped to handle the number of individuals invited to the party.

Even after taking all of the appropriate precautions, incidents can still occur. As such, it is crucial for your organization to secure adequate insurance. Each business is different, and may require additional policies to account for all of their exposures. Keep all of this in mind when planning your party so that you can relax and enjoy!