Do you know about host liability?

by | Jun 1, 2017 | Business Law, News

Do you know about host liability?
What to keep in mind when hosting your next office party

Warmer weather has finally arrived, and you may be planning your workplace summer gathering or already putting things in motion for the next holiday party. Company events you are hosting for your staff or customers require a lot of preparation and organization but besides choosing the food or the type of band to provide entertainment, you also have responsibilities as the host. – Corporate and Real Estate Lawyer, Laura Mijares, of Core Lawyers, provides insight on employer liability when planning corporate events.

Why is it important to host corporate events?

Holding in-person corporate events has been proven to be very beneficial for your business in many ways such as

  • Increasing your business productivity
  • Educating your employees
  • Building brand recognition
  • Motivating your staff
  • Building trust
  • Making face-to-face connections
  • Having fun

Core Lawyers blog social host

How to protect my company when hosting a corporate event?

The availability and consumption of alcoholic beverages are typically a subject of some discussion for most event planners of a corporate-hosted party. While every effort can be made to ensure your guests will be responsible with their alcohol intake or leaving their vehicle behind, ultimately, any guest who drinks a little bit too much at your company event exposes your business to significant liability.

Host liability has three categories:

  • Commercial Host Liability: Bars, restaurants, and other commercial establishments that serve alcoholic drinks;
  • Social Host Liability: Individuals hosting a party, such as family gatherings, friends parties; and
  • Employer Host Liability: Work organizations hosting gatherings for their employees and other business related guests.

As an employer, you have a duty of care towards your employees and you should take considerable measures to prevent your employees from getting intoxicated and compromise their own safety or the safety of others.

Please consider the following measures to reduce your company’s exposure and to prevent your party from ending up in a courtroom:

  • Hold events at non-work locations operated by a reputable Commercial Host
  • Confirm that your Commercial Host has all necessary permits and licences to host the event
  • Confirm that your Commercial Host is certified to serve alcoholic beverages (Smart Serve)
  • Provide non-alcoholic beverages options
  • Avoid Open Bar; instead provide guests with a limited number of drink tickets
  • Ensure food is served at all times when alcohol is available
  • Provide taxi-vouchers to employees and guests who require them
  • Implement a specific cut-off point where the work function officially ends
  • Promote responsible drinking
  • Call your insurance advisor and inquire about insurance products to cover party alcohol liability
  • Have your employees and other guests sign a waiver of liability

How to handle an intoxicated employee?

If you suspect that an employee or guest may attempt to drive a vehicle in an intoxicated state:

  • Take away the employee’s/guest’s vehicle keys
  • Provide an alternative means of transportation home and deliver the employee to a responsible person at home or intended location
  • If the employee refuses your assistance and attempts to drive, call the police

Awareness of your liability coupled with a thorough preparation for the possible scenarios at your event will ensure you can enjoy your corporate event and reap the benefits for your business. For more information or to discuss your individual situation please feel free to contact me directly.

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