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The holiday season approaches and businesses throughout the U.S. are making their preparations. Many businesses will soon be hosting office holiday parties to bring holiday cheer to their employees and customers.

While most office parties tend to be merry, they can also open up businesses to liabilities, including discrimination, sexual harassment, and DUI-related accidents.

Before you think we’re recommending a “Bah Humbug!” on office parties, we’d like to offer you some best practice advice. After all, we like to throw a good office party just like everyone else.

Best Practices for a Safe, Merry and Liability-Free Holiday Party

Below are some best practices that may help minimize your liabilities and make your office festivities a merry event.

Designate an Office Party Chaperone or Two

Make sure you’ve designated people to keep a sober eye on the festivities. This is particularly important when alcohol is present.

What Do You Call the Party – Holiday or Christmas?

While some people might be offended by the word “holiday”, the realities are that the season is full of religious holidays. To help keep your business safe from religious discrimination, stick with the generic “holiday” when naming your party.

Make Attendance Voluntary—Not Mandatory

Mandatory attendance to a fun office party might not be so cheerful when an employee feels forced to participate. Required attendance could open your business up to a Fair Labor Standard (FLSA) and state labor claim. Make sure your office invitation specifies that participation is voluntary.

Keep Tabs on the Alcohol

Limit the amount of alcohol served at your party. This means no “beer-drinking” parties. Many offices will provide two tickets for alcohol servings to help manage consumption. Also, your chaperone should keep tabs on everyone ensuring they are behaving properly while consuming alcoholic beverages. It’s also a good idea to stop serving alcohol at least two hours before the party ends.

When Someone has One Too Many, Be Prepared with a Free Cab Ride Home

Make sure you’ve arranged with a cab company for rides home for people who imbibe too much. Businesses should include the cost of offering “free” cab rides home in their party budget.

Forget the Mistletoe and Watch for Inappropriate Behavior

A holiday party is a good opportunity to relax and have fun. It’s also an opportunity for people to get too relaxed. Unwanted hugs, kisses, and lewd behavior could open your businesses up to a sexual harassment situation. If your business has a sexual harassment policy, distribute it to everyone prior to the party as a reminder.

By limiting the risk of holiday party liabilities, you’ll help keep your business and your employees out of harm’s way—and keep your holiday celebrations fun.

Too Busy? Delegate Your Event Planning Tasks

Are you considering a holiday party for employees and guests? We understand that small business owners have a lot on their plates already. A virtual assistance firm like Business Solutions Unlimited could help take some of those tasks off your plate.

Feel free to give us a call at (904) 429-4588 and let us take care of the details so you can relax and enjoy the festivities too.