The majority of employers – whether small businesses or large – will host a company party during the holiday season. Are you one of them? Whether you call it a holiday party, end-of-year party, or something else, chances are it is the one time of year your employees are encouraged to let loose and have fun. Before you start writing bonus checks, however, it is important to take steps to ensure your business is protected against potential risks. Continue reading and discover our top seven ways for protecting your business this season.
Your Liability as an Employer
As the host of a party, it is your responsibility to ensure your guests – both employees and non-employees – act in a safe and reasonable manner. You can be held liable for their actions at the party and sometimes after they have left. In Minnesota and Wisconsin, for example, dram shop liability laws make it possible for a third-party to sue a party host for damages, injuries or fatalities caused by an intoxicated minor. That means that you could be held liable for the actions of your 18-year old employee if he leaves your company party drunk. As the host, it is your responsibility for ensuring your employees and their guests are capable of driving safely.
In addition, you can also be held liable for the actions of your employees while they are at the party. If one of them decides to verbally or physically assault another guest while at the event, you could be served with a civil lawsuit. This includes claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, or other wrongful conduct.
Tips for Protecting Your Business
Of course, accidents can happen regardless of how precautious you are. There are steps, however, that you can take to help prevent a liability this holiday season:
- Review the employee practices handbook prior to the party as a reminder of the rules and laws against sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination.
- Avoid drinking if you are the party host so that you can gauge the sobriety of your guests.
- Serve food and non-alcoholic beverages alongside the alcohol.
- Offer a cash bar instead of an open bar, as guests tend to drink less when they ar responsible for the bill.
- Hire a professional bartender who is responsible for requesting ID and is also trained to recognize the signs of intoxication.
- Stop serving alcohol as the evening progresses, switching to coffee or tea instead.
- Arrange transportation alternatives for guests who do not have a designated driver and seem too intoxicated to drive.
Talk with Your Insurance Agent
The Insurance Information Institute recommends that employers talk with an insurer before holding a holiday party. An agent can help review liability coverage along with any exclusions or limitations that may leave a business owner vulnerable to risk. In some cases, commercial general liability insurance is not enough to adequately protect an employer. Instead, it may be time to purchase employment practices liability insurance, or EPLI, which can fill in coverage gaps and help protect against employee rights violation claims. Though each policy will vary, EPLI typically covers defense costs, court fees and any judgment amounts related to a claim.
For more information about EPLI, CGL or to review your homeowners liability policy, contact us here at Noah Insurance for a coverage review. We look forward to serving you soon.