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It's that time of year when many of us are feeling that our ‘tired is tired’. We're exhausted but still must give that final push before taking that well deserved break after a long and extremely challenging year but let's not forget the fun filled year end function that we've still got to look forward to!

So, before we get this party started........

As alcohol is often a festive addition to a year end function - are you as an employer aware that you can be held legally accountable for any damages caused by the actions of your employees? If this happens within the course and scope of their employment whether the function is held onsite or at a venue where the function is held.

So, what's the solution?

Most employers have alcohol policies in place that stipulate a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to alcohol consumption within the workplace. As such both employers & employees are then under the impression that this policy is ‘diluted’ for the length of the function. Having this misunderstanding often ends with detrimental consequences for both parties after the fact.

‘No one is saying don’t have fun.’ Employers however need to communicate that we have had year, accomplished goals and want to celebrate with one another. We just need to do it in a responsible way, respect each other, and not cross the line. That’s after all the basic language in every beer commercial’.

The employer may consider implementing the below steps to minimize the risks associated with serving alcohol at events:

  1. Promote the workplace alcohol policy and/or code of conduct as a reminder to all employees in advance, employees are also to be reminded that any type of harassment because of drinking will not be tolerated.

  2. Remind employees that the employer would be entitled to take disciplinary action against an employee for any conduct – on or off the premises – which impacts the employment relationship in any way.

  3. Consider only serving beer and wine and no hard liquor

  4. Limit alcoholic drinks

  5. Ensure that all employees have a safe way to get home

  6. Ensure there is sufficient food and water

“Employers typically have a legal responsibility to prevent intoxication, stop improper behavior and prevent impaired driving. By setting the company’s tone and expectations, a clear policy is the first line of defense.”

Should you require any assistance with updating and/or drafting your Alcohol Policy or work function indemnity form.

Article By:

Tiffany Reed: HR Consultant - Compliance Hub

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