We Wish You a Limited Liability Holiday

That doesn’t sound very merry, happy, or jolly. However, the truth of the matter is that the holiday season is the worst part of the year for impaired driving. In December 2013, 733 people lost their lives in accidents involving an impaired driver. Your company might need to rethink the seasonal celebrations, especially if they involve alcohol.

Best Practices

States are cracking down on impaired drivers as never before, reaching out with memorable ad campaigns, and the numbers of fatalities decline point by point. Everyone has been to the party where someone had too much, but until recently only on-license (places you drink on the premises) and off-license (a liquor store or party barn) holders could feel the weight of the law and civil suits.

Tavern Keeper’s and Dram Shop laws have been expanded in many states to cover social hosts as well, even if the event is held in an off-site facility such as a restaurant or banquet hall. This includes companies throwing events such as holiday parties and other celebrations. Put simply, unless your business has a liability policy that covers these circumstances, your company could be held liable for accidents, injuries, and deaths resulting from an employee’s impaired state.
How to Minimize Risk

1. Hold the event off your business premises, but not at a private home. Choose a restaurant or other licensed facility such as a hotel banquet room.
2. Advise staff to drink responsibly and management to set a good example.
3. Do not have an open bar. Try limiting the number of drinks by using a voucher or a handstamp system, making employees pay for drinks is limiting, but can be ineffective.
4. Always serve food and make sure that there are nonalcoholic options on hand.
5. If you have rented the facility for, say, 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, stop alcohol service 60 to 90 minutes before the event’s end. Offer free coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
6. Make attendance voluntary, and don’t invite clients or business associates. Make this a social affair by handing out bonuses and awards at the office during business hours.

Finally, sometimes the better option is to have a catered lunch in the office, with no alcohol. Order some sandwich platters from a bagel cafe like Domain, pick up favorite soft drinks, and some tasty patisserie and you’re ready for a great holiday kickoff.

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