He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice…

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The festive season is fast approaching and while your employees might be decking the halls with boughs of holly, you’ve got something to be less than jolly about - the inevitable Christmas party.

No matter what size your seasonal event is, health and safety is a key concern for any employer. Luckily, two lawyers from HR consulting firm Hicks Morley have come up with a checklist of measures to consider when planning a safe holiday celebration.


“Prudent employers should take steps to provide all attendees with a safe and enjoyable environment, and to provide safe transportation alternatives for returning home,” write Paul Broad and Pamela Hillen. 

“If you rent equipment or machinery for entertainment, ensure that it is properly assembled, maintained and operated by trained staff. Better yet, hire a competent operator to operate the equipment on your behalf,” they continue.
If your celebrations will include the consumption of alcohol, Broad and Hillen suggest you consider some of the following options to enhance safety:
  • Do not provide an open and unsupervised bar.
  • Close the bar an hour or more before the party ends.
  • Monitor employees’ alcohol consumption.
  • Consider utilizing a ticket system to limit the number of drinks an employee or other guest may have during the party.
  • Hire a third party (who can monitor consumption) to tend the bar and serve the drinks to employees and guests.
  • Prior to the event, inform employees that they are not to drink and drive, and remind them at the start and end of the event.
  • Set up alternative transportation options for employees prior to the party, and be sure to communicate them clearly to employees.
  • Provide taxi chits to employees, and do this at the outset of the event. Designate employees to proactively distribute the chits.
  • Consider establishing carpools with designated drivers who agree not to drink at the event.
  • Assist in arranging for hotel rooms for employees who live far from the event, perhaps by arranging a reduced rate with a nearby hotel.
Even if you implement measures to control alcohol consumption, there might still be some employees who over-indulge.  In that event, according to Broad and Hillen, employers may have an obligation to take positive steps to ensure the employee does not drive.

The suggest taking the following steps:
  • Consider a system whereby employees leave their car keys with an attendant at the start of the evening to avoid the situation of having to remove keys from an intoxicated guest.
  • Arrange to have a sober co-worker drive the employee home. Alternatively, call the employee’s spouse. Don’t just offer to do so.
  • Insist that the employee take a cab, and pay for it.
  • If all else fails, and the employee insists on driving in an intoxicated state, call for police assistance.
By planning ahead of time, employers can avoid many of the problems associated with excess alcohol consumption and ensure a fun and festive time is had by all.  

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