The holiday season brings great opportunities to celebrate - Thanksgiving, New Year's Day, and the company holiday party! While some companies have decided to forego company-sponsored festivities due to increasing liability and costs, your company can still host a great event if you consider the following pointers:

Assess the Liability. Keep business-related activities during the event to a bare minimum. OSHA and many courts have determined that employers requiring employees to participate in a company event makes it work-related and thus any injuries recordable as well as an employer liability under workers' compensation rules. Determine if the company should also be listed as an additional insured on the insurance policy for the day(s) at the venue where the event is to be held. Holding the holiday event at an ice-skating rink instead of a restaurant poses a different level of risk exposure. So, consider checking with your insurance provider.

Communicate Casual and Careful. Your company should clearly communicate to each employee that participation in such company events is completely voluntary. Also, review with the managers and remind all employees of the relevant emergency, health, and safety guidelines.

Promote Policies and Practices. Establish and/or update your company's applicable Employee Handbook policies (i.e. professional conduct, drug & alcohol, and harassment prevention). Consider related situations which may occur such as employees who choose not to attend (i.e. Must vacation time be used?). You also may want to have employees and their allowed guests to sign releases of liability.

Prepare the Disaster Plan. Plan effectively to address employees who may get into an accident or blatantly ignore your company's reminders/warnings for appropriate behavior. For example, if you plan to serve alcohol and certain employees over-indulged, have you arranged pre-designated drivers, a taxi-cab support program, and/or security staff?

Take the Lead. Every event needs strong and positive leadership which is accountable for the tone of the event planning and the event itself. Especially during the holidays, company gatherings can be a fantastic and festive way to thank your employees. Plan these events with everyone's safety and well-being in mind, and you will be well on your way to a celebration of great success!

Do you have plans to host a holiday party this year? Do you have the necessary steps and precautions in place? If you need help to safely host a company holiday party contact our team today!


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