Office Holiday Parties and Liability of Business Owners
December is a festive time of year. Often times, company holiday parties are a way for company owners to show their appreciation to their staff and spouses for the work that they do all year. However, there are important considerations to take into account when hosting a holiday office party.
In Ontario, business owners have been found liable for holiday parties that get out of control and cause injury to their employees. Typically, a business owner will have allowed consumption of alcohol on the work premises without any monitoring. The courts in Ontario have ruled that businesses allowing this type of behaviour will be treated much like the bar or tavern and therefore, liability can be attributed for over-service.
In order to have a safe holiday party, it is recommended that a business host their holiday party at an off-site location such as a banquet hall or restaurant. The banquet hall or restaurant has a liquor license and employees are specifically trained to monitor the responsible consumption of alcohol. This will ensure that employees are not served to an extent where they are a danger to themselves or others.
If, for some reason, you still wish to host your holiday party at your place of business, consider hiring an outside catering company or bartending service to monitor and control the flow of alcohol. Again, any situation involving self-service or non-trained service of alcohol could result in a finding of liability against your company.
Additionally, a business may wish to offer their employees a ride home. Taxi-chits at the door of the party are a great way to ensure that employees get home safely and can celebrate responsibly.
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