We find ourselves in that season when many of us are experiencing the fatigue that goes beyond the ordinary. We're weary, but there's one final push we must make before we can indulge in a well-earned break after a demanding and lengthy year. Let's not overlook the exciting year-end celebration that awaits us!
Before we dive into the festivities...
Since alcohol is often a cherished element of year-end gatherings, have you, as an employer, considered the potential legal accountability for any harm caused by your employees, whether the event occurs at your premises or an external venue, and if it occurs within the scope of their employment?
So, what's the remedy?
Most employers have established alcohol policies emphasizing a strict 'zero tolerance' stance on alcohol consumption within the workplace. This sometimes creates an impression among both employers and employees that this policy is relaxed during such events. Misunderstanding this can lead to negative repercussions for all parties involved.
"No one is suggesting that we shouldn't enjoy ourselves." Employers, however, should emphasize that we've achieved milestones over the year and wish to celebrate together. The key is to do so responsibly, with mutual respect, and without crossing any boundaries. This principle is, after all, a fundamental theme in many beer commercials.
Employers may contemplate the following measures to mitigate the risks associated with alcohol service at events:
Advance promotion of the workplace alcohol policy and/or code of conduct to remind all employees, and make it clear that harassment related to alcohol consumption will not be tolerated.
Employees should be reminded that the employer reserves the right to take disciplinary action against any behaviour, whether on or off the premises, that affects the employment relationship.
Consider offering only beer and wine, excluding hard liquor.
Set limits on the quantity of alcoholic beverages served.
Ensure that all employees have a safe means of transportation after the event.
Ensure there is an ample supply of food and water during the gathering.
"Employers typically have a legal obligation to prevent intoxication, curtail inappropriate behaviour, and discourage impaired driving. Establishing a clear policy sets the tone and expectations, serving as the initial line of defence."
If you require any assistance in revising or creating your Alcohol Policy or work function indemnity form, please feel free to reach out to us. We are here to assist you.