Providing alcohol at your next company event? Here are 15 tips that California companies need to know.

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Do you provide alcohol, beer, wine, or spirits, for employees to drink at work-related events? You want your employees to enjoy their work-related events and parties, but also want to keep your employees safe.

The Wall Street Journal recently mentioned a survey which shared that 38% of adults had attended holiday parties where alcohol was not served. More business events serve alcohol, however, with the alcohol provided by the business.

According to a SHRM survey, considering the improving economic climate nationally, more employers are holding office parties and more of them are serving alcohol.

Ideas for Employers about Giving Alcohol

Adult beverages can play a big role in company parties, but they can also play a big role in growing issues and accidents. Whether you are throwing a holiday bash, a company anniversary party, or just a Friday night “thanks for the hard work,” here are some recommendations that will keep you out of hot water and keep your employees safe.

– Discuss your company culture with employees emphasizing that drinking in excess is unacceptable during company events. Provide alcohol usage guidance in your company standard procedure. Think about adding policies to compare drinking at lunch and at meetings versus properly drinking with a client or vendor in which the employee limits themselves to one drink.

– When holding an event where you will be giving adult beverages, serve food, including appetizers, from the start of the event to ensure that employees aren’t drinking on an empty stomach.

– Think of offering a variety of interesting, non-alcoholic beverages, to remove the emphasis from alcohol. This can include things such as Italian sodas, virgin cocktails, fresh squeezed others and juices.

– When hosting an event, do not make eating or drinking the main focus of any event. Always offer some program or entertainment to set the focus out of the bar.
– Think about serving just beer and wine, no liquor. Always avoid serving drinks that limit an employee’s ability to assess the amount of alcohol they are drinking. Margaritas may be fun, but those forms of drinks can mask the alcohol and can get employees into trouble without them even knowing they are.

– Reduce the number of drinks the company provides by making using of drink tickets or another informal method of tracking the amount of alcohol served.

– Limit the time that the bar is open. Providing drinks just at the mixer before the program or only afterwards can decrease the amount of drinking done over the space of a whole event.

– Often use trained bartenders to serve alcohol; never allow employees to serve other coworkers. Never provide a self-serve beverage bar that includes alcohol.

– Be sure your bartenders are clear that they are not to serve alcohol to anyone who appears to be inebriated and make sure that you never serve alcohol to anyone who is underage.

– Think about paying for the event, the food, non-alcoholic drinks, and entertainment, but provide a cash bar for employees.

– Nix alcohol other than beer and wine at company events that include any attendees under the age of 21. Family events are no place for booze.

– Deliver a late night snack buffet before employees hit the road to end a company event. It doesn’t need to be elaborate: tacos, sloppy joes, hot dogs, popcorn, cold cuts, cheese and crackers, coffee and soft drinks provide a focus other than liquors.

– Remember that this is still a company event. Create a safe ride home program with a local motorcoach company, call a cab, or make certain that a designated non-drinking driver takes the wheel.

– Provide a safe ride home program wherein you pay for a charter bus to take people home or to transit hubs where they can get a ride home or to a hotel. Look towards negotiating a discounted rate for a local hotel where people can go after the event instead of going home and offer rides for free.

– Take a look at your company insurances to determine whether you have the appropriate coverage.

Employee manuals are the great place for your company to point out your alcohol policies both for parties and for normal courses of business. Be sure that people know where you stand, what is acceptable and what is not. Enforce your rules and make sure that just because you are an owner or a manager that you don’t step over the line either. Responsible alcohol consumption is a culture that needs to start at the top.

Alcohol could be a cheery addition to any company party, but there are real legal, social, and corporate responsibilities that need to be considered. At company events, as in your workplace, employee safety should always be your primary concern.

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