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HR Insights: Allowing Alcohol at a Work Event

What concerns should I be aware of when allowing alcohol at a work event?

HR Insights: Expert answers to common HR Questions


I want to throw a holiday party for my employees, and I made the decision to allow alcohol to be served. However, I’m concerned what the ramifications would be if an employee drank too much and became intoxicated. What concerns should I be aware of when allowing alcohol at a work event?


There are a few variables in play that affect this question.

One of the biggest is whether or not this event is mandatory for employees. If so, then that would count as time worked, and the consumption of alcoholic drinks would not be recommended, especially if you have a no tolerance policy.
The next variable is whether or not this event is taking place on company premises. Depending on your workers’ compensation insurance, any injuries sustained at the party could result in a legitimate claim.

As for legislative concerns, employers have a right to restrict the consumption of alcohol in the workplace, as well as being under the influence. If the event is not on workplace premises or during time worked, then the employees are not under any obligation to follow those policies, and must decide themselves to drink responsibly.

Vida HR often recommends including a policy in employer handbooks that addresses these employer- sponsored events. It reaffirms that the events are not mandatory, states the employees must drink responsibly, and in the event that they cannot drive, to call a taxi or driving service to get them home.

If you are a Vida HR client with concerns about employer-sponsored events, you can reach out to your HR business partner for more information.


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